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.
5.24.13 at 11:43 am | Taking the Socks off
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
5.17.13 at 2:11 pm | Bee Sting, Projectile Vomit, Stanley Cup and more! (26)
5.24.13 at 11:43 am | Taking the Socks off (17)
3.1.13 at 3:25 pm | No brainer (10)
December 7, 2011 | 12:56 pm
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,
November 30, 2011 | 12:37 pm
Posted by Elliot Steingart
Looking for a place to rent is like starring in your own episode of “House Hunters.” In contrast to yuppie newlyweds sharing how much they like the fenced in backyard where all three of their Golden Retrievers can run for hours, I’m standing in a 400 square ft Hollywood efficiency saying, “I like how there is a stove.”
Most people rent in Los Angeles so there is intense competition when a decent apartment hits the market. When a less desirable unit is ready, I’m the guy that goes in to make sure everything is okay. I spend my free time chatting with apartment managers and feigning interest in studio apartments.
“I really like how it’s one big room. No, it’s great. It’s like living in a really large cubicle.”
I stop my car in the middle of a street whenever I see a sign for West Side Rentals. The Subaru behind me flicks me off and West Side Rentals tells me the unit has already been rented. It’s like I’m being told to f*ck off twice.
I keep searching and try to imagine my life inside each of these units I see like the newly remodeled top floor unit on S. Oak Knoll Ave. When I took that left onto S. Oak Knoll for the first time I envisioned growing old on this quiet Pasadena street lined with oak trees, walking distance to work. I liked the high ceilings, and the idea of Pasadena where I could wave an American Flag in the Rose Parade and vote Republican.
My co-workers Stacey, Kimi and Matt all approved when I took them for a visit.
“It’s super nice.”
“Oh, and there’s a pool too.”
“And you can walk to Panda Express!”
I didn’t mind that Evan, the apartment manager kept calling me Elias since she was now taking me to see #14, the only available upstairs unit. When I walked in Evan’s office a girl was filling out paper work.
“She’s interested in the downstairs unit. ” Evan told me. “She will take a walk with us upstairs so she’s not just sitting by herself.”
We entered #14 where the current tenant left boxes and dirty towels on the floor.“Are you ready to put down your deposit?”
“How about I let you know after the weekend?”
After driving away, I received a phone call from a 626 number.
“Hi, Elias. This is a courtesy call to let you know that the girl is going to be taking that apartment.”
I expanded my Craigslist search to other parts of Pasadena. One ad appeared daily in different forms: “Garden Apartment!,” “Ready Now,” and “Your New Home Awaits…”
Each time I clicked on the ad I felt empty inside. I flagged the user for abusing his posting privileges, but figured I might as well at least see this 750 square ft unit on S. El Molino, close enough to El Paseo in Old Town.
I met the older gentleman in his 70’s whose craigslist ads I despised. I shook hands with this soft spoken individual who led me towards my new home, an unimpressive, outdated brown carpeted one bedroom apartment.
“So how’s Craigslist working out?”
“I’ve posted a little bit on there.”
“So I’ve seen,” I said to my new friend whose ad now has more flags than the Rose Parade.
My co-worker Andrew suggested I consider Highland Park which he described as “Up and coming.”
I drove through York Street at night and seemed to pass an endless strip of liquor stores and guitar shops. It didn’t seem like this area was up or close to coming. Andrew asked me what I thought.
“It’s not for me,” I replied politely.
“Why? Are you too good for our neighborhood.”
“It’s not even like that. I just would just never ever live there.”
Over Thanksgiving weekend I took my parents on a driving tour of Silverlake around the reservoir and down to Franklin through Los Feliz until we landed on Rodney Street, a pleasant side street situated between Hillhurst and Vermont. As we waited to get buzzed into a three story building we looked through the names on the intercom and identified Wasserman and Isaacs, nearly one Jew per floor. Brenda, the friendly Romanian apartment manager showed us a beautiful studio with hard wood floors, new kitchen tiles, a large walk-in closet and a balcony with views of Wasserman’s apartment.
“What do you think?”
“It’s great. What do you guys think?” I asked my parents.
“We both like it,” my mom responded. “But, it’s up to you.”
Brenda invited us into her home to discuss the terms of the lease. I asked about the utlities as grown men were getting wacked in the nuts with whiffle bats on “America’s Funniest Home Videos.”
“Im about 90% sure I want to live here,” I told Brenda who I’m sure was thrilled I still possessed a good 10% of self doubt.
Imagining late night meals at Fred 62, hikes in Griffith Park, and living in an area as fun to pronounce as “Los Feliz” compelled me to forward my Sports Illustrated subscription to Rodney Street. I’m excited to invite people, or a person to start with, and see how much room there is with my bed, couch and record player. My mom suggested purchasing a divider to make the studio seem like it has two rooms. I’ve looked at dividers on Overstock.com, but not sure how I feel about the idea of a giant Tetris piece next to my bed. Meanwhile, my mom is busy researching historical facts about Los Feliz.
“Did you know that Walt Disney created Mickey Mouse while living in his uncle’s house in Los Feliz?”
“Yes because I too read the Los Feliz Wikipedia page.”
I also know that “Rebel Without a Cause” was shot at the Griffith Observatory and “Swingers” was shot at the Dresden Room. It’s a shame my episode of “House Hunters” will not cement itself in Los Feliz cinematic lore. If Walt Disney can sketch the beginnings of Mickey Mouse in Los Feliz I too can thrive here, or at least continue blogging for the Jewish Journal.
There is much to discover in Los Feliz and much more to learn about the new studio and how it will smell since I’m the only one living there. If the place smells I cannot blame anyone else. It won’t because Los Feliz will be a fresh start. I just know it.
November 23, 2011 | 12:54 pm
Posted by Elliot Steingart
I developed my first ever crush in 2nd grade on Alyse Katz. She was pale, and beautiful and good at times tables. Imagine sitting next to the girl you’re in love with every single day in math class and then being mean to her. How great love was.
It’s been a while since I have liked someone as much as I liked Alyse in second grade. Recently though, I have developed a grade-school crush on Kristin, my exotic neighbor who lives right down the steps from me. My crush is harmless since I know Kristin has a boyfriend, not just any boyfriend either. From the pictures I’ve seen on Facebook he’s about 6 feet 6 inches with olive skin, dark eyebrows and broad shoulders. He looks like a Greek God. How can I compete with Stavros Costmopolous? He would stuff me like a grape leaf. Stavros, whose real name is Jerry, lives in San Diego. Fortunately, I have a major proximity advantage. All I have to do is walk downstairs.
On a recent weeknight I was all set to open a nice bottle of wine, a Charles Shaw Sauvignon Blanc ( Fall 2011), but I couldn’t find the wine opener. I decided that this was my chance.
Kristin’s roommates, Marissa and Caroline, usually answer the door. No one answered when I knocked so I rang the door bell. Rather than stick her eye through the peephole, Kristin lifted the curtain to identify who was at her door—a true example of courage.
Kristin and I have shared many small moments in the last few months like the time she organized a yard sale on our front lawn to benefit one of her nursing school classmates wrongfully placed on academic probation. I helped by purchasing the 2005-2006 Los Angeles Clippers Media Guide for $2. We’ve chatted a lot on the phone, mainly about me blocking her in the driveway. Through these interactions I am offered glimpses into her studious personality, forever hitting the books for her next nursing exam.
Kristin welcomed me inside her empty house wearing pajama pants and spaghetti straps. We entered the kitchen where she handed me the wine opener with a smile that seemed to suggest I was up to no good. Should I ask if she wants to play nurse, I wondered.
“Are you stoned?” She asked.
“No, Why? Do I look stoned?” I removed my glasses so she could check my eyes.
I opened the bottle and offered her a glass.
“I have school tomorrow,” she said.
“I’m just trying to enjoy the night. Can you blame me?”
There is that tense realization that surfaces from knowing you are home alone with a beautiful girl who has a boyfiend. The cat Minerva walks into the kitchen, but you are still the only other male in the house. You stay as long as she asks you questions and as long as she wants to talk about how she spent her month off from nursing school, her chances of getting a job after she graduates in June, and being 30 years old and not wanting to live with roommates anymore. She clarifies that she likes Marissa and Caroline, but would prefer to live somewhere that has her own furniture, and art work.
“I would prefer to live somewhere that has more color.”
“You should like the white walls. It’s like you are back in the hospital.”
“That’s not a good thing.”
I wait for Kristin to shift her feet outward to signal our time is up, but her feet remain pointed towards me.
“I like visiting your house because it reminds me that this is how a home is supposed to look.”
“I’ve never seen your house.”
“It’s the same layout as your house, just not nearly as presentable. I bought a Living Social for a cleaning lady, so hopefully that helps.”
She pauses and says, “I’ll visit after she cleans the house.”
Living Social well spent…
A few weeks later a red truck is blocking our driveway. I knock on Kristin’s door to identify the culprit, and to my surprise a towering figure with a flannel shirt and handle bar mustache answers the door. Stavros!
“Hey, sorry about that.” He began. “Parking on the street was really tight and Kristen said it would be okay. Sorry again, I’ll move the truck right now.”
I wait for Stavros to pull the truck to the front of the driveway. He waves at me at which point I roll my window down.
“Cool stache by the way. Is it for Movember?”
“Yea, thanks man. We are running a 5k for cancer tomorrow.”
“Good luck,” I shouted.
“Alright—take care, bro.”
So Stavros is no longer the Odysseus archetype I imagined, but a guy named Jerry sacrificing his face for the fight against cancer. I still have a crush on Kristen, but it helps to now know the guy who would kick my ass.
November 16, 2011 | 12:55 pm
Posted by Elliot Steingart
Success in your 20’s is relative. Sure, I may drive a Hyundai and work for a growing internet company, but all I’ve ever really been is someone’s roommate. For the last three years I’ve lived with roommates in an area without a definitive name; some days it’s Fairfax, other days, Melrose.
In the summer of 2008 I moved into a furnished apartment on North Hayworth with Dave, someone I met senior year at Torrey Pines who had a small room available with views of the Hollywood Hills. Two days later Dave told me he was moving out leaving me 30 days to furnish the place and find a roommate.
I auditioned roommates on Craigslist and the safest bet was Steve, a UCLA Law Student from Korea. He and I got along well enough until he told me he lost $50,000 gambling and would have to move out. I didn’t understand.
“If you had $50k how come we never had a toaster?”
He left with the garbage can which incidentally was the only time he took out the trash.
Ryan, a buddy from Pittsburgh I hadn’t seen since high school, moved from Alabama to replace Steve. That first day I sat on the balcony with Ryan reminiscing about our days playing soccer at Allderdice, telling him how he would love the neighborhood and the carne asada burritos at Benitos right across the street.
He didn’t care that Stacey, my girlfriend would stay over most nights. I cared more than him. He didn’t have to share half the bed with her. When Stacey wasn’t around Ryan and I would walk to “Benny’s” for a burrito or play Madden games that resulted in me going to sleep a loser. Once Ryan let a girl he was dating borrow his favorite sweatpants. When they stopped dating three weeks later she posted pictures on Facebook wearing the sweats. The stress of life at 340 Hayworth was letting these girls get into our pants.
When Ryan told me Ben, who in third grade karate kicked me at my neighbor Matt Glunt’s house, was moving to LA, I was both excited and ready to defend myself. The three of us moved up the street to a duplex just north of Melrose, above three girls in their late 20’s. Stacey and I broke up shortly after the move and Pippin, Ben’s pittbull/boxer mix, became our favorite female confidante who Ryan and I tried stealing away from Ben unsuccessfully nearly every night.
Life was simple in the neighborhood. I drove two miles to work at Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters, roughhoused with Pippin and met new OkCupid dates at the Snake Pit. Ryan and I transitioned from Madden to NCAA Football making bets like the loser has to walk to the gas station to get the winner a Diet Mountain Dew or in my case, sour cherries. Ben gave me karate lessons in our backroom.
“For this move you have to be comfortable with your sexuality,” he said as he sat on top of me holding my wrists.
“I ‘m comfortable with my sexuality, but this seems funny. And it’s not helping that you’re wearing a purple belt.”
We barbecued on the weekends and spent most nights together in the living room watching sports or HBO but still lived independently. For Ryan that meant skating down to Fairfax to chill with the homies at the Hundreds. When Ben wasn’t editing videos in his room, he drove to Karate practice and I discovered Melgard, a beer pub on Melrose and Gardner that would become the destination for my monthly comedy night.
When we moved in to the place Denise, the Realtor, wanted to make sure we didn’t play any loud instruments. Ryan didn’t tell Denise his drum set would occupy the corner of our living room.
Instead he simply said, “I play the flute.”
I left the room to stop myself from laughing.
“You should hear him play. He’s one of the best.”
Then Ben tried convincing Denise that Pippin was a friendly dog and not a killer pittbull like she thought.
“She’s only half pitt.”
“She doesn’t even talk to that side of the family,” I added.
Thankfully Ryan never once played the drums and Pippin didn’t destroy the house, but we stopped caring about the condition of our house, the same place where plants went to die. Dishes piled up so high in the sink I began sneaking handfuls of plastic utensils weekly from my office to avoid the responsibility of putting the dishes in the dishwasher. That’s the only reason I wore cargo pants to the office. We became negligent to the point that even after buying the services of a cleaning lady on Living Social we still haven’t made the call.
You get to a point when you realize you don’t have to live this way. It’s not just the condition of our house, but the commute to my job at Goldstar in Pasadena that no longer makes sense. Beginning the first of the new year, I’m going to leave the neighborhood to move to my own place. I am sad to leave and hope I will not be forgotten. Maybe the girls at the gas station will miss the guy who buys $1 lottery tickets and Diet Mountain Dew. Ryan and Ben will either find someone to replace me or move elsewhere. If they choose to stay I hope their next roommate makes his living as a dishwasher.
Now I search Craigslist for one bedroom apartments, and visit Walk Score to see the walk-ability of my new neighborhood. My mom wants me to live in a Jewish neighborhood, but there is no Jew Score to tell me how many Jews live in my neighborhood. I’m not basing my apartment search on whether or not I can have Sunday conversations with Sam, the butcher. Though if I live near other Jews maybe I’ll find a Jewish girl from Michigan’s Upper Penninsula with whom I imagine frequenting the Silverlake Farmers Market on Sundays and one day settling into a quaint two bedroom on an Eagle Rock hillside. For now I’m more focused on secured parking and on site laundry. I have yet to find an apartment on Craigslist that comes with a Jewish girlfriend. I still haven’t checked West Side Rentals (too expensive).
I’m planning to move to Pasadena where no one knows me. I think about my upcoming anonymity when I run at night passing for sale signs on empty storefronts on Melrose from my favorite LA Realtor, Houmin Mahboubi. Maybe Houmin will have more luck listing on the East Side?
I run past Yawnee, my favorite hairdresser at Vous Salon who in exhange for my glowing Yelp review, gave me a bottle of $15 shampoo. What will become of my sideburns?
I pass Melgard’s large outdoor patio on Melrose and Gardner where I side-step smokers and skaters. After a year and a half of building the show from nothing, I wonder if “Melgard Mondays” should even continue.
I avoid running into parking meters and blow past the outdoor diners at the Foundry. When I circle back around I peer into the local pizza shop, Tomato Pie and give a head nod to the friendly proprietor, and wave at the Israeli kid next door working at Booyah’s Frozen Yogurt where I splurge for fro-yo topped with jimmies and gummy bears.
Even if I move to Pasadena I can’t replicate the life I lived in the neighborhood or replace roommates who became my best friends. I’m ready to join a gym and wash dishes and maybe start performing comedy more regularly. I’m motivated to live better. That’s what it means to move on.
November 9, 2011 | 12:35 pm
Posted by Elliot Steingart
Two months after my Grandma Leona was diagnosed with cancer I received a call from my mom insisting I drive down to San Diego to see her before she passed away. I had never waited for someone to die before, let alone my loving grandma, the matriarch of our family who always told me I was the next “Steinfeld.”
Leona had a sharp sense of humor, and often made us laugh unintentionally. “I hope I’m not going to hell” she would say. To which we explained Jews don’t believe in hell. I’m guessing her version of hell was someplace with too much schmutz.
Leona was not destined for hell. She raised four girls, including her nieces Janice and Cathy, whose parents died when they were very young. She also took care of her husband, Norman as his health declined in the late 70’s and later her father who moved in with her for the final 10 years of his life.
Every September Leona would fly from San Diego back to her hometown of Pittsburgh to stay with us for a month. She would babysit my sister, Ariel and I and let me watch “Empty Nest” even when I was grounded from TV. After school we played gin, and ate her famous chocolate chip cookies together, and when we went “upstreet” we held hands like a strictly platonic Harold and Maude.
And now on a moment’s notice, our entire family representing both coasts, arrived in San Diego to wait out the inevitable death of the eldest member of our family, someone we all loved and included.
When I arrived at Aunt Barb and Uncle Larry’s house my parents walked me into my Cousin Ari’s room where Leona was laying on a home care hospital bed hooked up to an IV. She looked ghostly, but seemed at peace, unlike her grandson who could hardly look her in the eye without crying.
Later Rabbi Rosenthal visited her room. “Now is the time to tell Leona what she has meant to you,” he advised.
Grown men broke down in that room and my mom and Aunt Barb told their mother she was their inspiration and best friend. I leaned over my 4’9"grandma who at this point shared the bed with Alfie, Aunt Barb and Uncle Larry’s Bedlington Terrier, and Jake, her 3 month old great grandson. Seeing a dog and baby cuddling with grandma on her death bed made me smile.
“You probably know why we are all here…so you can finally tell us who is your favorite grandson.” She still had enough in her for a laugh.
We left her room not knowing if we would ever see her again. We relied on the medical opinions of the family doctors, Uncle Larry, and my Cousin Josh.
“It could be tonight, it could be tomorrow. We don’t really know.”
“She would want us to celebrate her life rather than be sad.” My mom continued to reiterate.
Despite the horrible circumstance, the entire family reunited: Ariel, and cousin Robyn, both pregnant and their husbands Brian/Bryan, cousin Ari, the jungle DJ living out of his van, my cousins Josh and Abby and their two baby boys, Jake and Tyler, Adam and hot girlfriend Sierra, and Sami, Max and Sasha, cousins in their 20’s who could finally sit around the table and participate in an adult conversation with the likes of Uncle Marc, Aunt Judy, Aunt Janice and Rich, and Aunt Cathy, and David.
Thursday night Uncle Larry left to round the hospital so Cousin Josh stood on call downstairs with Grandma. As we drank wine upstairs, snuck out back for a smoke, and told jokes by the fire, Josh kept Grandma alive.
On Friday mom and Aunt Barb spent most of the day by grandma’s side, as did Aunt Cathy. Meanwhile, Delhi, Leona and Aunt Barb’s housekeeper, worked off the clock tending to her friend, Leona. The rest of the day the family split up and eventually came back to the house for dinner and drinks.
Saturday morning my dad schooled me in tennis. When we arrived back at the house Cousin Adam and I played FIFA. In the 80th minute my mom interrupted the game.
Those of us inside the house slowly entered the room. There she was with her eyes shut and mouth open. I stared at my grandma who was now merely a lifeless body. We held each other realizing this was the last time we would ever see the matriarch of our family. 92 years of life had stopped in an instant.
After leaving the room we waited for the others. Ariel, Sami, Sasha, and Aunt Janice came down the steps. We stood in silence, stunned this was now the conclusion.
The rabbi returned and asked us to share our memories of Grandma. She was the “peacemaker who could always keep a secret,” said Aunt Cathy.
Cousin Robyn remembered hiding Aunt Leona’s hair nets.
My dad remembered calling Leona’s office when she worked at the Pitt. Her boss would answer and reply “She’s here, but not all there.”
I shared the time grandma volunteered to type a homework assignment for me and typed a whole story about tuna fish I made up on the spot.
That night some of us watched “The Big Chill,” a film that seemed to capture what we expereinced. After the movie, the cousins and I escaped to Dave and Busters. Cousin Max left with a pair of D & B underpants.
About 40 people attended the funeral. Uncle Larry composed himself better than any of us could.
“I first met Leona in 1967,” he began his eulogy.
“I was in love with her daughter. I knew the first time I met her, that I was also in love with Leona.”
I looked to Josh and Ari, my cousins I wanted to be like the most growing up. Now at 26, I still needed approval from my older cousins to see if it was okay to cry at grandma’s funeral. Not like it mattered; I was defenseless.
“At 92 she was still driving and playing Mahjong three times a week. She was truly at peace with dying and she died in front of the people she loved most—her family. I knew Leona almost as long as my own mother. I will always love Leona.”
During the end of Leona’s life our family spent five meaningful days together. In between playing “Words with Friends” on our iPhones, we became a group of people who could talk to each other, and laugh and cry with one another—a family. Before my grandma passed, my mom asked her if she had any life lessons. All she said was “Be Kind.”
If only we can continue to live like Leona.
November 2, 2011 | 12:04 pm
Posted by Elliot Steingart
The exciting part about being single is you never know who you are going to sleep with next. It can be anybody, really. Knowing me, most likely an artsy liberal from OkCupid. I’ve been on the site for almost two years so at this point “Mr. San Diego” is a seasoned veteran.Though I grew up in Pittsburgh, I moved to San Diego when I turned 17. I figured Mr. San Diego would get more dates than Mr. Pittsburgh who I envision drinking an Iron City wearing a tank top and jean shorts. Mr. San Diego at least wears sleeves.
With a few decent enough photos of yourself and a fairly witty profile, you can meet a lot of women. The problem is when Mr. San Diego, the once genteel internet dater turns into “Mr. Weeknight.” An average Tuesday for Mr. Weeknight: two drinks at home, walk to Melrose for two more drinks with someone with whom all you have in common is occasionally you both like to eat pho.
Mr. Weeknight expresses his love for Eagle Rock, and how he enjoys the music of “Mumford and Sons,” but beyond that nothing personal.
“So, do you have any siblings?”
“A brother, or a sister?”
“Just a sibling.”
It got to the point where the bartender at the Snakepit would know that I’d bring a different girl with me each week. She would pretend she didn’t know me so things never got awkward. I would tip her an extra dollar out of gratitude. Even though many of these dates led nowhere I continued on. For every lackluster first date at the Snakepit with Kelly, there was the hope of Rowie at the Surly Goat and the promise of Alana at the Village Idiot.
And then, something happened. I woke up and realized I didn’t know who I was sleeping next to. It wasn’t a woman….I sucked in my stomach then exhaled and it was what I thought it was: my belly. I felt my chest and it felt like I was forming man boobs. I don’t like to think they were man boobs, rather boobs that would belong to a lady, but still.
Was I gaining weight from all these mistake dates? Was it worth going out with someone who told me her version of camping was a hotel without room service? How about my date who saw a heavy set woman at a restaurant and told her friend she should be on the anorexia diet? Would this be my future?
I sat lounging in my living room with my feet up mindlessly watching TV when a few proud men wearing tank tops appeared on screen. “My guy friends started making jokes when I told them I joined ‘Weight Watchers for Men’. That’s okay because I’ve lost 50 lbs. Who is laughing now?”
Weight Watchers for Men, what a novel idea, I thought. I need to lose weight, and I’m a man. Plus I always liked tank tops; I was born and raised in Pittsburgh not San Diego.
I am now three weeks into weight watching. I get 35 points a day which allows me to eat all the fruits and vegetables I want and anything else in moderation.
I am counting every carrot and tracking everytime I run, play basketball and soccer. It’s fun and it’s already working. Weight Watchers is turning into Date Watchers. If Date Watchers isn’t already trademarked, I’m sure we could help other online dating addicts. Date Watchers could help you track how many emails you send and how many responses you get. Everytime you go on a date you can track how much you drink, spend and then track the outcome. Eventually you may realize for all the time and energy you put in, you probably aren’t seeing quality results. Then again, maybe you’ve found your GifelteBitch, I don’t know.
What I do know is that I’m watching how much I date because dating non-stop isn’t healthy for me. Instead of my alter ego,“Mr. Weeknight,” I’d rather be a better fit young bachelor who can confidently meet someone the natural way—in person (at a bar).
I am running during the week, eating healthier and feeling better about myself all while eliminating the mistake dates. Now who can help me trademark Date Watchers?
October 27, 2011 | 10:31 am
Posted by Elliot Steingart
I remember looking at the new faces in my freshman dorm and immediately identifying who in the room looked the most Jewish. Tall, skinny dude wearing Giants cap, I may not know his name, but that’s my boy. Many of my best memories from my first year were spent playing catch baseball with Ryan right down the hill from our dorm room on UC Santa Cruz’s East Field overlooking Monterrey Bay. We ate most of our meals and drank most of our beer together, and triumphed as part of the “Poke Checkers” checking line in intramural floor hockey.
I was in Ryan’s dorm room when a sparkly blue-eyed blond haired gal named Sierra from his Sonoma County hometown of Healdsburg, California popped in. Ryan didn’t have to tell me he liked Sierra in high school and never stopped. It was obvious.
Well, as luck would have it, Ryan and Sierra basically shared a room sophomore year, the same room I also just so happened to share with Ryan. They eventually moved in together which made the most sense for everyone.
Despite these memories, I couldn’t decide about attending Ryan’s wedding. We had only seen each other a few times since graduating in 2007. The wedding was a far drive and I’d have to take time off work. He was my best friend in college, but we didn’t talk all that much. Plus my best bud, Vivo, the Poke-Checkers all time leading goal scorer, wouldn’t be there.
I struggled with this decision and sought advice from family, co-workers, retail employees—whomever would listen. A few beers deep on a first date I asked Abby her opinion. “Would you want him at your wedding?”
So, I drove up to wine country with Todd, my freshman roommate. We spent hours in the car together listening to his same Rage Against the Machine album on repeat like we were roommates again. We spent a night in San Francisco with our friend “Shappy,” who we convinced to join us at our camp site along the Russian River.
Ryan and Sierra’s post-college friends—farmers, fisherman, and townies, arrived at the beach with some of the best groomed mustaches west of the Mississippi. Nate, our new zucchini farming friend passed a bottle of whiskey around as we introduced ourselves as Ryan’s college friends aka Ryan’s Jewish friends. Shappy, now shirtless, was the only person at the campground wearing a Star of David. To fit in better, I was hoping the Star of David that could reverse into a Cross. Also not helping matters,Todd forgot his sweatshirt. It was like man vs wild. Well, more like Jewish man vs wild.
And then I met Blair –tan, with thick brown hair and remarkable lips, my love interest for the weekend.
At night we sang songs like “Jolene” around the campfire. I sat in a foldout chair hoping Blair would come close since I didn’t want to give up my seat. Instead she clung on to Raj, a salmon fisherman from Alaska who had drifted to Santa Cruz. When he wasn’t catching salmon, he was crashing weddings and stealing hearts. Ryan rounded the circle like a joint until finally reaching my chair. “What’s it feel like?”
“It’s surreal knowing everyone came here just for us.”
Todd and I wondered how we would shower before the wedding since there were no showers on site.I put my head under a spigot where I conditioned my hair and shaved my neck. I changed my pants inside the tent and kept hitting my head on the top flap. I stepped out of the tent to see Blair looking sexy in a royal blue dress, a similar color to the bridesmaids dresses. If one of the bridesmaids went down Blair could easily step right in.
The wedding was held at a vineyard overlooking Alexander Valley and a nearby reservoir. The sun set over the valley with Ryan and Sierra underneath a hoopah handcrafted by Ryan’s dad and the four groomsmen who I presume never before wore a yarmulke nor built a Chuppah. Ryan’s Uncle Mike officiated the ceremony. The microphone was about a foot taller than Mike and it took him a good couple of minutes to realize that the mic was not turned on.
Sharing their vows, Sierra expressed her love using index cards while Ryan took his bride in his hands and said “Sierra when I am with you I am free. I promise to be good to you always. You are my love, my only love and I will forever be there for you.”
Blair was sitting in a row next to several other naturally beautiful Bay Area natives, the kind of strong-minded, independent women you’d want Occupying Wall Street. These proud women were now sobbing uncontrollably. I was more than ready to borrow Uncle Mike and take Blair under that same Chuppah.
Raj reeled Blair in so it probably wasn’t going to happen. Besides, in the two days I knew Blair the extent of our conversation was “Nice to meet you too.”
And so with my cabernet in my hand I took a walk as the sun began to set. One of my best friends in college was now a a married man and there I was at his wedding watching the sun glow from the body of the reservoir thinking about how this might be the end of our friendship. I wouldn’t see him much anymore, not like I saw him much to begin with. That thought passed quickly when I realized that Ryan and Sierra’s love was pretty special, and I witnessed it from its earliest stages to its climax (literally).
Before I could reach the dance floor, Ryan grabbed my arm. “Horah—next song! I want you to be in there.”
I rushed to the circle joining the groomsmen in lifting Ryan in the chair until I could no longer feel my arms. I was glad I could be the Jew he identified among everyone else. More so, I’m glad I could be there as a friend.