Posted by Elliot Steingart
I’m not romantic in the traditional sense. My ex girlfriend said, “How come you never buy me flowers?”
“Because flowers die.” I said.
I would love to be the kind of guy that arrives at his girlfriend’s door step with chocolates. While flowers and chocolates are nice gifts, waiting in line at Rite-Aid is not romantic at all. Plus she lives in a secured apartment building. By the time she comes to the door to buzz me in the chocolates would melt.
I don’t buy into this idealized romantic standard popularized by the films of Freddie Prinze Jr. I’m not going to ever wait in the rain to win love back. She’d be long gone by the time it rained next in LA.
Nor can I imagine spending thousands of dollars on an engagement ring. If I do, my future fiancee better be okay that I’m purchasing our honeymoon on Groupon Getaways. I hope she’ll be excited about our two night stay in Catalina.
As a practical romantic, I’m attentive to her own needs while also looking after my own. I always offer my lady water when I am thirsty. I tell her she looks pretty and rub the back of her neck when she makes me.
Most of all, I like to try new things. I’m not afraid to switch it up. I invited her to take a bath with me which was like trying to fit two uncooperative Tetris pieces into a tiny box. It is that kind of spontaneity that I enjoy most. Any guy and gal can shower together, but there is greater risk involved as it is easy to slip and fall, and hit one’s head. Also one person must wait to get under the water and might get cold. A bath is the better option especially when you ask her to make waves.
I enjoy taking her places that will impress her like taking her out to see Lindsay Buckingham at the Wiltern.We drank John Jamesons, our favorite whiskey, and waited for Lindsay to play his hits like “Not That Funny” and “Tusk.” Instead he played his new song “Poor Little Raven.” The crowd was enchanted while we whispered in each other’s ears about how poor we felt for listening to “The Raven.”
We left our seats and snuck down to the floor level where we were an arm grab away from the Raven himself. After the show we stumbled into a Korean Karaoke bar where we rented a room and sang for as long as Lindsay played singing drunken duets of Death Cab for Cutie’s “I’ll Follow you into the Dark” and “Can’t Stop” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
I’m excited by the little moments that we share together. Going splitsville on lottery scratchers and then taking turns scratching each row is romantic to me. Helping adjust her golf swing at the driving range was a romantic moment. Her treating me to lunch at the Roosevelt Cafe overlooking the golf course because she lost our driving contest by 165 yards was also romantic in the most endearing way possible.
I asked her if it was okay to mention her in my blog again. “I love when you write about me,” she said.
I told her my idea was to write about how I don’t consider myself romantic because I don’t buy flowers and chocolates. “Romance isn’t about that kind of stuff. Romance is about wanting to see each other a lot and I feel that’s how you are with me.”
She’s right. And by that definition I’m a lot more romantic than I thought. I’m at least more romantic than some. Imagine how David Blaine’s girlfriend feels.
“Honey, can we order in tonight? Maybe watch a movie?”
“You know I would if I didn’t have to bury myself alive for the next seven days.”
Like David Blaine, I have a few tricks up my sleeve. Perhaps a weekend getaway, or another couple of blog mentions. Maybe I’ll even buy her a cactus. Cacti don’t die…
5.17.13 at 2:11 pm | Bee Sting, Projectile Vomit, Stanley Cup and more!
4.22.13 at 11:10 am | An unforgettable trip to a romantic destination
4.12.13 at 11:23 am | Making an unlikely new friend
3.25.13 at 1:39 pm | Learning about the Man I will become
3.8.13 at 4:59 pm | Moving on up
3.1.13 at 3:25 pm | No brainer
5.17.13 at 2:11 pm | Bee Sting, Projectile Vomit, Stanley Cup and more! (61)
2.22.13 at 4:36 pm | Deciding upon a mantra (8)
1.18.13 at 12:42 pm | For a pretty good talker, I kind of suck at. . . (6)
May 16, 2012 | 11:35 am
Posted by Elliot Steingart
My favorite song this week is “Between Trains” by Robby Robertson written for the “King of Comedy” soundtrack back in 1983 and for me to hum to on my recent train trip aboard the Pacific Surfliner to Solana Beach station.
Following a sleepless night, I wanted to close my eyes and wake up to the sight of the ocean hearing the twang of Robertson singing “There ain’t no place …Where there’s a home I could claim ...And I’m still between trains…”
It’s hard to sleep on the train knowing you are waiting on a train conductor to ask you for your ticket. I am also self-conscious about other people watching me sleep. My move is to put my jacket over my head, and hope for the best. It’s also a great way to ward off chit-chat. No one with any social intelligence will start a conversation with the guy covering his head with a Starter jacket.
After handing my ticket to the conductor, I reached for my jacket when the elderly lady applying masquara sitting next to me asked, “Are you from the Middle East?”
“I’m from Pittsburgh.”
I then covered my face.
Instead of sleeping I wondered if the elderly woman was a secret agent of the Department of Homeland Security. She sees I have a five o’clock shadow. I’m not smiling. She asks one simple question about my ethnic background and then I hide under a jacket. I could hear Robby Robertson singing “But I’m on the run from these chains….And I’m just between trains.”
It’s a lot easier to commit a felony and board the Surfliner then it is to book a flight, print your boarding pass, present ID, go through security. The conductor didn’t check my ticket until we arrived in Irvine. I could have robbed a Credit Union and hopped off in Fullerton.
Across the aisle I could hear a woman yapping to someone named Jennifer. “Just take a deep breath, okay Jennifer? Breathe in. Now breathe out.”
I pretended I was Jennifer so I could take a few deep breaths en route to falling into a deep sleep.
“Jennifer! I’m not going to tell you again. Get a hold of yourself and take a deep breath.”
Either Jennifer was in serious danger, or the lady across the aisle sucked at teaching Yoga.
I lifted the jacket from upon my face and saw the elderly woman had left her seat. I covered up again and I closed my eyes.
In an hour I would be in San Diego. The next day our family would visit my grandmother’s grave site, almost year after she passed away. Initially my Aunt Barb wanted to put a picture of my grandma on her grave stone along with one or two quotes. Between the picture and the quotes it would look less like a gravestone and more like a Facebook page. It was hard to believe it had been nearly a year since I lost my grandma.
I texted my mom to see what she had planned for the day. “Vietnamese and beer tasting,” my mom replied.
I have to come home more often, I thought to myself. At Solana Beach my mom greeted me by saying “Guess what we did last night?”
Before I could guess, my dad boasted, “We saw Maroon Five, and Kris Kalifa. As we were leaving an 18 year old girl patted me on the back. She said, ‘I just have to tell you that you were the coolest people here.’”
“I’m sure you were the coolest Kris Kalifa fans.”
After Vietnamese we visited three North County San Diego breweries. It was nice for us to drink beer together as a family until my dad started unleashing his jokes on unsuspecting bartenders.
“Charles Dickens walks into a bar and orders a martini. Bartender says, what will you have?‘Olive or Twist?”
At dinner my mom bugged my dad about finally starting his blog. Because my dad spends so much time in the bathroom, my mom is making him write a blog called “The Bathrooms of San Diego.”
“Just be careful that you aren’t taking a picture of anyone’s dong,” I advised.
My dad took a photograph of the urinal.
On the morning of the unveiling my mom was not pleased that I would be wearing my vintage Pirate Starter Jacket to the cemetery. “The deceased don’t judge,” I argued.
I felt better when I saw that my Aunt Barb, Uncle Larry and Cousin Ari came toward the gravesite with their two Bedlington Terriors. It was a casual family affair, the way my grandma would have wanted.
We said the Mourners Kadish and each shared something nice about my grandma. After brunch we all went our separate ways. In just a few short hours I could cover my face again.
“I guess I’ll always be between trains…”
May 9, 2012 | 2:44 pm
Posted by Elliot Steingart
I find myself waiting to hear if I’m Jewish enough to play “the Jew” in a reality TV pilot. If I am not chosen, it’s all good. I think we already have enough Jewish stereotypes on TV. I ‘ve watched CNBC’s American Greed marathon. You’d think they could have spaced us out just a little bit.
I’ve reached a point in which being Jewish is not my entire identity. I write a blog for the Jewish Journal and drink seltzer. That’s really about it. I park my car in the church parking lot. Father O’Malley sees that I park my Hyundai in between the lines. When the barista at Coffee Bean asks for my name I tell them it’s Christian. I’m the only Jewish male in my office and on my soccer team. And that’s the way I like it. There’s less competition, and my quirks are more unique.
Amazingly, writing a blog for the Jewish Journal has made me less Jewish. The last thing I want is to be labeled a “Jewish Blogger.” I’d prefer Jewish over the term “blogger.”
I don’t keep Kosher. In fact, I really like pork. And even though I used part of my Christmas bonus to renew my subscription for JDATE, I’m very happy dating a girl who isn’t Jewish. In fact, my lady friend graduated from The Mayfield Senior School of the Holy Child Jesus. When she first told me that the name of her school was the Mayfield Senior School of the Holy Child Jesus I repeated the name of her school back to her as, “The Mayonnaise Christmas School of the Sweet Christian Jesus.”
I can’t fault her for attending a somewhat wordy and religious senior high school. Her religion only makes me more curious.
“Do you pray to God or Jesus?” I asked her.
“I pray to Jesus and God,” she said.
“Are they on speaker phone?”
“No,” She laughed. “It’s a conference call.”
It’s refreshing to date someone who isn’t Jewish. Aside from religion, we have other things in common like sharing food when we eat out. And we love to sing and drink and play lottery scratchers. She is a wonderful person not to be Jewish with.
If I was selected for the pilot I would need to take time off work just to be Jewish. With my lady friend, I’d prefer to take a vacation from being Jewish. I want to take her to Orange County. We’ll drink white wine and then go boating. Maybe I’ll even swim without waiting 30 minutes to digest my lunch.
Together we are experiencing cultures different from our own. Perhaps not by coincidence, twice in the last two weeks we have seen a gay deaf black guy and his partner in Los Feliz. I guess it’s a sign of the times. That, and we hang out at the same spots as a gay deaf black guy and his partner.
Recently at Pavillions I asked one of the employees where I could find the pistachios. She turned around and indicated that she could not hear and was in fact deaf. The only thing harder than opening pistachios is pantomiming opening pistachios.
Stereotyping the hearing impaired is just as dangerous as stereotyping a Jewish blogger like myself or those who talk to God and Jesus at the same time. I guess it makes for good television, or an interesting blog. It’s for you to judge.
May 2, 2012 | 11:13 am
Posted by Elliot Steingart
It’s hard to take yourself too seriously when you ask the girl you’re seeing how it feels to be f*cking a blogger. She likes me for the blogger I am. She doesn’t judge me for going to movies by myself or sipping on John Jameson in my underpants and dialing Mario at Time Warner Cable to swindle HBO. She lauds me for also bundling Showtime and Starz for the same price. Better yet, she encourages my effort as I blog to glory.
And she couldn’t believe that a reality TV producer discovered my blog and wanted me to audition for the role of a young, charismatic Jewish guy to befriend a back country hick to show him Jews aren’t so bad afterall.
The producer said she wasn’t looking for some actor. I was a real live Jew, I assured her.
“What’s kind of budget are we talking?” I asked.
“It’s not yet finalized. It could be $5. It could be $500.”
“How about $500?” I inferred.
I looked up audition tips on Youtube. I was told to wear blue because blue is a neutral color. Blinking was also discouraged. Since my dad is a male model I learned that is helps if you look Asian.
I felt very confident going into the audition knowing I only had to be myself. I’ve gotten jobs and had sex being that person. If they didn’t like me at least it would not be because of my acting. It would be on account of my personality.
I sat in the waiting area of a Sunset Strip agency like that you would see on Entourage. The producer greeted me and asked If I needed anything.
“Water sounds great.” I said pretending to read the Hollywood reporter. I sat crossing my legs, holding in a fart.
She returned with a bottled water. “We’ll get started in a moment. We are just waiting on Greg.”
“Sure, of course.” I replied.
“Greg? Who the hell is Greg?” I wondered
I liked the idea of Greg, not so much the idea of waiting for him. The exciting part was anyone in the lobby could be Greg, except for the Mexican guy.
A few fake Gregs walked by with their heads down until one offered me a head nod and raced in the other direction. Maybe Greg had to shit too?
I couldn’t tell what Greg looked like until he finally approached me with a pair of cool glasses and a moustache. I figured there was no chance I could keep a straight face, but he wasn’t the Hollywood hotshot I was expecting. He was a hip dude from Silverlake.
“So you like records,” he opened. “What records do you like?”
“Mainly classic rock and singer/song writers.” I replied to Greg who led me and his two other producers to a large board room shielded by glass doors.
“How much do records cost?” asked the producer.
“You can find some decent vinyl and some rare vintage stuff for $20,” said Greg.
“Or $2 if you like Jackson Browne,” I added.
Greg made me feel at ease as he repeated many of the same details I learned over the phone about how the pilot would help introduce the subject to new cultures and dispel any preconceived notions about minorities.
“How comfortable are you answering questions about Judiasm?” Greg wanted to know.
I name dropped every Jewish organization of my past—the JCC, Emma Kaufmann Camp, Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters, and the Chabad Telethon. I figured I couldn’t get more Jewish.
“Are you meeting with a lot of people?” I asked.
“We just met with a mohel. He was so funny,” laughed the producer.
And that’s when I realized I could get more Jewish. How can I compete with a mohel?
“Do you drive?” the producer asked.
Aha! Take that mohel. “Yes, with two hands,” I clarified. “And on Fridays and Saturdays.”
Everyone smiled and looked at each other. I smiled and looked at everyone back. “So, what’s the next step?” I asked.
“We’ll be meeting with some more people and should have an answer next week sometime.”
“In the meantime,” the producer interjected. “If you know of any one else, please send em our way.”
That’s like hearing a date tell you, you’re nice but I’d rather f*ck one of your friends.
I’d rather not get typecast as a Jew, then again I will if you pay me. Blogging about myself got me to this point, and it’s getting me laid. Might as well keep doing what I’m doing.
April 25, 2012 | 12:39 pm
Posted by Elliot Steingart
I’ve reached the age when I can relate to my parents’ friends as much as my own friends.
My parents are still friends with the same crew they rolled with in Pittsburgh, and now a slew of South Africans in San Diego where they’ve lived the last ten years. My parents are pick-up artists. At parties they run game, get numbers and set calendar dates to experience Ethiopian cuisine with other baby boomers who tuck in their shirts.
For every Maxine and Richard, there is a Steve and Suzie and a Diane and Howard. Then you throw Rick and Elyse into the picture or Marissa and Paul and you best believe you’ve found someone to bring a bowl of orzo to a party at your house like the party my parents threw last weekend for their friends to meet my baby niece, Dylan. I was meeting some of their new friends for the first time. My mom told me Greg was coming with his wife to the party.
“Since when are you friends with a Greg?” I asked.
Greg from Mexico came to the party wearing a sport coat and also a hearing aide. I guess he didn’t hear that the party was casual.
Maxine and Richard were early arrivals. Maxine and Richard are like doppelgangers of my parents, Judy and Marc. Maxine and Judy dress similarly and Richard and Marc tell the same corny jokes.
Last summer the furious foursome met me for dinner at Cha Cha Cha in Silverlake. Maxine asked me to tell my best joke. I told a joke about Israel. Maxine smiled politely. Breaking the silence, Richard told a joke which made the table laugh. Maxine followed with a funny joke of her own. I’ve performed at the Hollywood Improv and the Comedy Store, but how many comedians have opened for Maxine and Richard?
“I have to tell you. I loved your blog about your mother,” shared Maxine. “And congrats on the promotion. That is so wonderful!”
“That’s nice of you to say,” I shared.
Because of Maxine’s excitement, news of my recent promotion spread like wildfire around the party. Diane, my mom’s close friend, also from South Africa was the next to congratulate me. “Great news! Congratulations.”
Most of the others heard the news, except for Greg.
Our family friend Larry attacked the veggies with great fervor. It was a pleasure seeing Larry, one of our first friends in San Diego. In 2002 my mom launched her personal errand service “Mission Accomplished” and began preparing large quantities of vegetarian chili for a Spanish woman who lived in the neighborhood. Sara enjoyed my mom’s chili so much that she mentioned that her husband, Larry was looking for someone to help do some landscaping in the backyard. Unequipped for physical labor, my mom offered my services, “Shleps for Less.”
I met Larry in his garage where he was listening to doowop, the music of his youth. Incidentally, I preferred doowop to hip hop, the music of my youth.Larry explained to me that I would start out making minimum wage. If I worked hard and proved my worth I could make a tiny bit more than minimum wage. Under Larry’s scrutiny I learned the proper way to wax a car.
“Elliot, you must understand the value of precison,” he exclaimed as he pointed to a speck I missed on his Jaguar’s rear bumper.
While I borrowed one of Larry’s bathing suits to clean his pool, Larry was out at the pool with me telling me about his childhood in Jersey, and his travels to Spain where he met his wife Sara. Larry taught me how to use a chainsaw and a tree trimmer, and the two of us built a fence that still stands to this day.
“Elliot,” he said to me one day. “You are such a good kid. I’d love to meet your father.”
I didn’t know how well of a match Larry’s intensity would be for my easy going dad. Larry invited my dad to a bull fight and the two have been friends ever since.
At the party Larry invited my dad to see the Three Stooges. I told Larry about my blog and Larry told me about his son losing his virginity.
I ate some carrots and watched the Pens give up some tough goals to the Flyers. Richard sat next to me and asked me about my dating situation. I told him that I was starting to see someone, and we were having a lot of fun together.
“That’s great,” he said. “You just want to make sure you have common interests. Some women are great in the bedroom, but outside of the bedroom they don’t have anything interesting to say.”
Richard told me how he and Maxine were high school sweethearts who lost touch, moved across the country from one another with spouses they eventually divorced.
“After emailing for a year she finally agreed to meet me half-way,” Richard told me. “I was in San Diego and she was in New York. Half-way was Philadelphia.”
“My second wife wanted me to be someone I wasn’t. Maxine loves me for who I am.”
“You need to find someone who likes you for you,” Maxine chimed in.
Baby boomers are among my favorite people. Not just because I have some grey hairs and they do too. And not just because I, too, wear Land’s End. They are the kind of people who share wisdom and are genuinely happy that you have a good job and are sleeping with somebody. And who else brings the banana bread?
April 18, 2012 | 11:43 am
Posted by Elliot Steingart
As an adult you realize that sports don’t mean as much to you as they did when you are a kid.
Watching the Steelers lose to the Cowboys in the Superbowl in 1995 was one of the most crushing moments of my childhood. Ten years later while in Vancouver, Canada I watched the Steelers beat the Seahawks to win their first Super Bowl in my lifetime. After the celebration I stood outside in the rain waiting for a bus. That’s when I realized I didn’t win the Super Bowl or have an umbrella.
I look at sports differently now. If the Tigers beat the Blue Jays, so be it. I am okay flipping past an inconsequential regular season ball game without feeling emasculated. I’ll see the score at the bottom of the ESPN ticker.
If names like Rich Tocchet and Ron Francis aren’t familiar to you, I accept that your childhood was different than mine.If you didn’t accuse NBA Jam of cheating and immediately curse and turn off the Sega, I understand. You probably don’t know why Ronny Seikaly was the only basketball player in the history of NBA Jam incapable of heating up. Neither do I.
I appreciate sports in context. Trade deadlines excite me. Who announces the game is just as important as who wins the game. I’ll watch any game called by Gus Johnson, Doc Emerick and Brent Mussberger and wish Bob Costas could permanently host every telecast.
I’m a more self-aware sports fan. I no longer collect Fleer Ultra inserts or act as a play by play announcer when I play NHL ‘94, but I still care about sports, just not as much. Granted, no matter how hard I try, I know at least one segment on “Real Sports With Bryant Gumble” will always make me cry.
And I know that Steve Novak is the Knicks best spot up shooter. I can tell you that Lamarr Woodley graduated from Michigan, boarding can result in a game misconduct, and Jerry Tarkanian lead the UNLV Running Rebels to a national title. I can even tell you that New York Giants Linebacker Jason Pierre Paul’s father is Jean Pierre-Paul and New Jersey Devil’s Center Zach Parise is the son of former Minnesota North Star, JP Parise! It’s just that I don’t think it matters that I know these things.
I was a talented athlete as a kid capable of playing most of the major sports. I excelled at booting a soccer ball and played good enough basketball to swat Jordan Marks at the JCC. I showed potential as a youth squash player, but quit taking lessons because I feared Dulio, my instructor, would beat me with his squash racquet if I did not hit a hard enough boast of the side wall.
Over the years I’ve matured as an athlete. I have a better sense of gamesmanship. I’m the 6th best player on my men’s over 30 soccer team. We don’t have a coach so Kenny, our best player, will make a speech at half-time suggesting adjustments we should make in the second half. I’m the next person to say something like “Oh yea, and I’m open.”
I know that my role is to set up my teammates with long crosses, and if the opportunity presents itself, blast one from the 18. I’m not a dribble first kind of player. I play with a ball hog. He doesn’t even pass in practice. He yells, “Come on guys! What are you doing?”
“It’s called passing.”
You can tell a lot about someone by what kind of teammate they are. I’m not Tim Tebow or Jeremy Lin. I’m more like Mike Alstott or Fred Hoiberg. I can contribute, but I haven’t yet had my career defining moment.
At my last job my boss called me into her office and said, “We don’t think you are a team player.”
This was shocking to hear since I did whatever was asked of me.
“I’m a team player. I just don’t want to play on your team.”
I’m sure this is how Lamar Odom felt about playing for the Mavs.
Not everyone is Tebow or Jeremy Lin, even for a few weeks, but all you need is a chance.
A few days ago my team was called into our large conference room where our V.P. made a surprise announcement.
“We are searching for someone to manage Sports and Attractions.You are all welcome to apply.”
Upon hearing the news I made a case for the value I could bring given my previous accomplishments and my knowledge of the national sports landscape. I waited for the sports trivia portion of the interview. Ask me how many goals Pat LaFontaine scored in his career! I’ll even take the football quiz in Diner: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xS3VuRbizDs
I presented myself the best I could and tried not to think too much about the position. I had sports to watch. I was on pace to become the first Los Feliz tenant evicted for yelling during a Pittsburgh Penguin playoff game. After the Pens three goal collapse I flipped to the end of the Clippers/Thunder game where my Clippers (die hard bandwagon since 2009) triumphed over the #1 team in the west.
I listened to Dan Patrick and Colin Cowherd on the way to work and checked espn.com throughout the day, per usual. After lunch I was pulled aside.
“I’d love for you to join my team,” said John.
I shook his hand and said, “I just want to thank you for the opportunity.”
I’m ready to step up to the plate and hit one out of the park. I also want to play more basketball. And I’m stoked to come into work and prove myself to the good people giving me this chance much like Lindsay Jacobellis did at Winter X Games XII back in ‘08. All or nothing.
April 11, 2012 | 12:20 pm
Posted by Elliot Steingart
My new co-worker is a perky 26 year old gal who lives in Los Feliz. She is nice looking and normal. We walked to Starbucks where I popped the question.
“Want to carpool?”
“Sure!” she said.
It’s a big commitment to carpool to work with a total stranger. You really have no idea what to expect. You just assume that because you are both adults you are mature. You also assume because you have a license you know how to drive a car.
What if that wasn’t the case? What if she starts driving and I start screaming, “Get in the left lane!!!” Go, bitch! We can’t be late!!”
And that’s just on the way to work. What if on the way home I make more demands? “Get off here. I have errands to run.”
I make her take me to Albertsons, then H & R Block. I get back in the car and say, “We gotta stop by Leroy’s house.”
She’s waiting in the car while Leroy and I go on all night bender. She is still in the car waiting for me until the following morning.
The next day it’s my turn to drive. I pick her up, and then drive us off a cliff. All you see is the car burst into flames. She agreed to carpool with me knowing this is the stuff that I think about.
I respect her for taking a chance. This is my first real adult carpool, the first time I initiated driving with someone to work everyday. Growing up you don’t have a choice with whom you carpool. It’s kind of the same idea as being friends with your neigbhors. You have no say. You live close so automatically are forced into friendship.
Your new friend is the kid digging for earth worms in the front yard. His name is Yuval. He’s not good at sports. He’s good at nature. You just want to play hide and go seek. “You hide. I’m going to seek out some new neighbors.”
Or in high school when you carpool with Maya, the girl who asks too many questions about your weekend. After she parks, you tie your shoes and rather than wait, she accelerates straight to homeroom!
Because I sought out the carpool, I’m responsible for its future. For the sake of rising gas prices I must maintain the carpool at all costs. I have made concessions. I let her choose the CD this morning. She picked Best of Talking Heads. A great selection. We talked about how she is adjusting to the job. She told me about her volunteer work. I told her how about the $4.99 deal at Albertsons.
She said, “You already told me about that.”
“Your choice of two chicken breasts or wings, and two sides?”
“Yea,” She said. “I’ve heard this from you.”
She is an adequate driver. Not the best. I have a better command of the wheel, and how far behind you should be from the car in front of you. You can’t call out her driving on the first day of the carpool. It comes gradually. The second week once you too have a few inside jokes, you find yourself becoming more vocal.
“You may not want to tail this guy,” I said.
“I swear I’m not a bad driver. You don’t think I am. Do you?”
“No, you are good.” I lied.
I understand that there is added pressure driving someone you want to impress. Driving becomes a performance. I drive with more gravitas. I speed and mouth the words to “Hunger Strike” by Temple of the Dog.
She takes alternate routes like the 5 instead of the 2. We joined the slow moving traffic at which point I said, “It’s okay. This is a teachable moment.”
I’m carpooling with the girl next door. Granted she’s the girl next door who probably didn’t pass her driver’s test on the first try, but neither did I.
What’s important is that we’ve come a long way since our first week in the carpool. That first week felt like each leg of the trip was a date. “What’s your favorite restaurant in Los Feliz?”
“Do you like Mad Men?”
It’s inappropriate to mix business with pleasure. Besides we are friends, and she will read this blog because I asked her permission to write about the carpool. If you are reading this, I have forgiven you for the time you almost rammed us into a Mazda and then said, “Wups!
Lately, we walk out of the office at the same time as Kimi and Mishi. They started carpooling from the Southbay over a year ago. They listen to KPCC’s Steve Inskeep and play on their phones. We are still in the talking to each other and making jokes phase. We both know our carpool is the best. It’s a matter of time before we challenge them to an after work drag race, and leave em in the dust and then give them the finger.
I’m glad our carpool is a source of pleasure and that I haven’t driven us off a cliff.
April 4, 2012 | 3:30 pm
Posted by Elliot Steingart
My mom is Judy, the foodie. She is the Mr. Yuk of sodium nitrates, and high fructose corn syrup. I think she’d rather I marry a non-Jewish woman than have me eat anything with partially hydrogenated oils.
I want to make my mom proud but it’s easier to invite your buddies out for beer and wings than beer and quinoa.
I live with a double consciousnesses of knowing that my food choices are informed by the omnipresent judgmental shadow of Judy, the foodie, the health food crusader who hasn’t eaten red meat since ‘72. She is the baby boomer carrying reusable grocery bags to the farmer’s market where she buys produce like jicama,persimmons, and watermelon radishes. When I visit she feeds me parsnips.
I am very lucky Judy cooked nutritious home made meals five nights a week. I just didn’t see it that way. While she baked lemon pepper chicken and stir fried Chinese vegetables, simmered Thai coconut bowls, and boiled tortellini, I wanted out.
“F*ck salmon croquettes!” I pouted.
Red meat wasn’t allowed in our house. If I was lucky I could sneak in a Stouffer’s Pepperoni Pizza. I waited for the day when I could feed my insatiable appetite for frozen pepperoni.
At age 16, I spent a summer living with my Aunt Barb and Uncle Larry in San Diego. I found refuge in carne asada, and prime rib. I ate meat with meat with a side of meat. I spent so much time in the men’s room you could’ve easily renamed it “Elliot.”
I became self diagnosed with Irritiable Bowel Syndrome. Every time I ate red meat, especially coupled with cheese, I suffered physical pain. Though I did get my summer reading done rather quickly.
While in the midst of my beef binge, I gave up chicken, my first true love. I don’t like to get into it, but there were a few troublesome experiences that culminated in a nightmare I had during which I awoke to find a flock of chickens pecking at me. I did not eat chicken from August of 2000 through my freshman year of college in 2004.
In college I ate like a monster. My buddies and I nightly trecked up the hill to Crown College at UC Santa Cruz for late night cheeseburgers and Sierra Mist, and ice cream and cookies because we weren’t under the influence of anything.
I even recorded a Youtube video about my love for Gummy Bears: Gummy Bears
Around this time Judy, the foodie, self-published “The I’m Out on My Own for the First Time Cookbook,” to inspire young people to eat healthy by suggesting affordable and nutritious meals. I never opened her cookbook. When I studied abroad in Vancouver all I kept in my house were hot dogs and oatmeal.
Judy, the foodie, warned me. “Watch what you eat.”
As I became further entrenched into the dark underbelly of spicy salamis, my mom’s diet shifted further to the left. She read a book by Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn who prescribed a clinically proven diet to prevent heart disease: no meat, and no oils. Bill Clinton followed the diet first helping convince my Uncle Larry, Aunt Janice and Uncle Rich. Judy the foodie ate some oils but said goodbye to chicken and fish. Judy, and the rest of my relatives on the diet say they feel their energy has increased and since starting the diet, no one has suffered a heart attack.
Last Sunday I watched Sunya Gupta’s special report on 60 Minutes addressing America’s sugar epidemic placing much of the blame on the ubiquity of high fructose corn syrup Toxicity of Sugar Judy, the foodie, brainwashed CNN’s Sunya Gupta!
Maybe Judy, the foodie, had been right all along. I thought about it. I never got IBS from a parsnip.
It is a process to change your eating habits. It happens gradually. I am now a closeted healthy eater. I’m a 147lb IBS survivor who eats Kashi and brussel sprouts. I no longer live by the promise that a “Jersey Mikes is coming soon.”
I’m also a problem solver. I’ve had trouble sleeping the last few nights. I wake up in the middle of the night, drink pineapple juice and then fall asleep. It’s nice falling asleep with the taste of fresh pineapple to guide me into dreamland.
I still drink and eat chicken wings because I’m a guy, but I try not to buy snacks with high fructose corn syrup or partially hydrogenated oils.
I’ve recently discovered turkey pepperoni, a step in the right direction even if the pepperoni is filled with sodium nitrates. I’m trying, but sodium is still my favorite nitrate.