Posted by Elliot Steingart
Every couple of years it’s nice to go back to the institution that now refers to me as “Borrower.” I owe it to my alma mater, UC Santa Cruz. Stepping foot on a college campus now that I’m 28 makes me appreciate how far I have come.
On a recent visit my girlfriend and I traversed through a large chunk of the 2,000 acre campus. I acted as tour guide pointing out my dorm and the health clinic that gives away free condoms. We admired the redwoods and the sensational views of Monterrey Bay and the Pacific Ocean. I felt very nostalgic but the more I looked at the students whizzing by us, the more I felt out of place. Between the sweats and pajama bottoms, I felt like I was staring at a sea of Lena Dunhams. The student body changed as well. I started our tour trying to spot the Jews. I left the tour trying to spot the whites. At one of the colleges I noticed two white guys throwing a football. At that moment I felt like I was truly back on campus, especially when one overthrew the other by a good five yards. I hearkened back to the time I accidentally tossed a football that grazed a pregnant woman in the back. College...
Because we would soon leave to visit my girlfriend’s sister at Stanford, I decided to play a game of "Which Campus has the Hottest Student Body." I noticed a striking brunette with red lip stick. “She’s hot.” I told my girlfriend. My girlfriend shot me a look of disgust. And that was the end of that game.
In an effort to stay true to my college experience we saw more of my smoke spots than we saw of lecture halls. After walking across wooden bridges through the forest my girlfriend seemed to have a favorable impression of UC Santa Cruz. I waited for her return from the bathroom before we would drive up to see her sister at Stanford. “There’s poo on the toilet seat,” she cried.
We left for Stanford soon after. For a school filled with geniuses you would think they also would know how to flush a toilet. Older and seemingly wiser, I flushed a genius’ pee. Like Santa Cruz, it was difficult to find many white people until we reached frat row, the surprising location of my girlfriend sister’s vegetarian cooperative. Walking to greet her sister, we noticed a student hanging upside down from a tire tied to a tree. A few others wearing tie-dye gathered around picnic tables drinking beer. Conversation centered around the line up for Coachella. The majority of acts like Stone Roses, Grizzly Bear, and Bingo Players sounded like names of other vegetarian coops.
After seeing my girlfriend’s sister’s debut as director/playwright of “Terminus 2 Terminus” set aboard the Paris Metro, we found ourselves invited to a wine tasting in our honor at the coop. My girlfriend and I sat Indian style in a 10 x 13 dorm room with 30 others waiting to taste $5 merlots.
“Where do you guys go to school?” I was asked by a freshman girl sitting next to me.
“We go to work,” I explained nicely.
Sampling the wines was different this time. This was the first time I poured wine not in my mouth, but out the window. By no fault of my own, a half a bottle of red spilled on the carpet and onto my girlfriend’s leggings. One of the stars of “Terminus 2 Terminus” sat in the wine puddle, not seeming to mind at all.
In college it’s fine and acceptable to glide around in pajama bottoms, not flush toilets, and sit in wine. It’s this kind of attitude that most seems to exemplify college. I’m just not in college anymore, but it's good to remember I once was....(cue: sound of toilet flushing).
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! (65)
3.1.13 at 3:25 pm | No brainer (11)
2.22.13 at 4:36 pm | Deciding upon a mantra (7)
January 23, 2013 | 10:52 pm
Posted by Elliot Steingart
Last week was like any other except it was the week I was going to stay at my boyfriend's parents house for the weekend. It wasn't the first meeting.They had visited us in Los Angeles a few months prior and we had had a great day of activities (please see Meet the Steingarts).
However, this was the week that the boyfriend decided to fall so ill that he could not move from his bed or talk besides to utter dramatic questions like “Liv, my throat hurts so bad. Do you think I will ever feel better again?” and “How do I get rid of this headache? Please tell me.” I made him dinner one night and got a hint of a smile but in general I felt like I was dating a zombie. By Friday my anxiety was through the roof. How would I get along with his parents without his good humor?
On Friday at work he was semi-concious and managed to infuriate me around lunchtime because instead of eating lunch he wanted to shop for CDs.
“That is it I am done, I am not going.” I yelled via Gchat.
He called my bluff and we headed down the five freeway.
The moment we arrived at the Steingarts I felt at home. Elliot's mom, Judy the Foodie had prepared a delicious vegetarian meal and the wine flowed freely. The only awkward moment was when Elliot ripped off his shirt prior to dinner to show off the hard work of the past few months at LA Fitness (please see Heroic Effort blog). I knew that if I was at a home where nudity was accepted at the table the weekend would be exciting.
After the meal, Elliot's mom presented me with the Christmas gift of a gorgeuous scarf. This was to be a wonderful weekend.
Saturday brought a long and fun walk and chat with Judy and beer tasting at San Diego's finest microbrewery establishments. Little did I know that each time I went to the bathroom Elliot was asking what his parents thought of me. Similarly, each time they were going to the counter for popcorn or more beer tastes I was doing the same. My boyfriend was the liason between parties gathering information.
At one point after six tasters and one of the most delicious spicy habenero pepper beers I had ever tasted I jolted up to go to the bathroom. Upon my return I complained that there was no toilet paper. Judy said that she had tried to warn me but I had gotten up too fast. I liked knowing that Elliot's mom had my back and didn't want me to have to wipe with seat covers. I felt truly at home.
The only thing that bothered me all weekend was Elliot being lazy while his mom worked. Judy loves making great food and hosting people but I wanted to make sure I wasn't being a loaf just sitting on the couch. My boyfriend wouldn't lift a finger. In fact, his mother had to wash a load of his clothes and find a razor so he could shave his hairy neck. I gave him a look of disgust and he finally managed to get himself his own glass of water.
All in all it was a wonderful weekend with Elliot's parents and I hope to see them again soon. I am pleased to be dating someone whose family is so fun and generous. While the sweet dulcet tones of Chris Botti soothed us on the twilight drive back I realized I was very glad I didn't stay home.
January 18, 2013 | 12:42 pm
Posted by Elliot Steingart
For a pretty good talker, I kind of suck at listening. My girlfriend has made me understand this point more clearly. We frequently play a game where I ask her what her plans are to which she responds, “I already told you.”
She dismisses me by saying, “you don’t care.”
The truth is I do. I just didn’t care the first time. Maybe I did but I was pre-occupied thinking about something I wanted to say. This came to a boiling point when my girlfriend was talking about a mole she had removed. Without meaning to cut her off, I jumped in saying, “I have lots of moles too.”
“That’s it,” she blasted. “I’m done.”
“No, I want to hear more about your moles.” I said.
“No, your mole story is more important.” She said. “Go ahead.”
The end of my story is that "I have lots of moles." I didn’t have a good mole story. I don’t think a good mole story exists even among dermatologists.
I know a lot of people who only talk about themselves. These people are what you call, annoying. I admit that I talk more about myself with my girlfriend than I do with others because she is someone I trust and can depend upon to listen. I am hoping to become a better listener in 2013.
Seeking listening tips online, one helpful source suggests leaning in, tilting one’s head and occasionally nodding. This seems great for listening and fake listening. Another helpful tool is paraphrasing someone's previous statement. For example, if she says, “I am leaving you because you don’t listen to me.” I would then say, “Okay, you are leaving me because I don’t listen. Wait! Don’t go.”
As important as I sometimes think I am, I never want to feel like I am annoying, unless I’m spending time with my sister. Struck with a sore throat this past week I have been unable to talk as much. I also have an excuse for not listening as much since my ears are plugged. My excuses are running thin, and I'm also running low on stories. Though I do have a pimple that I think might actually be a mole. I'll have to tell her about it.
January 11, 2013 | 11:18 am
Posted by Elliot Steingart
My girlfriend and I see things differently. When I use her Netflix account she tells me I'm mooching. I get that she doesn't like me using her account out of fear that I will tweak her preferences. She wants recommendations for “Critically-Acclaimed Cerebral Crime Dramas” not the “Rise and Fall of the WCW.” Fair enough. Though, after nine months I feel she can decide on a better word than “mooching” like maybe, I don't know, sharing?
I share many things with her. Just this week she asked if I could order her a hair curler through my Amazon Prime account. I didn't accuse her of taking advantage of “relationshipping.” Nor would I call her a mooch for spending more time at my apartment than at hers. I am happy she does. I do not ask for much--a roll of toilet paper here and there, help hanging a picture frame, organizing my tennis shoes.
No one said sharing is easy. I own a small love seat that is comfortable for one person. When I'm alone I sprawl out with my legs crossed hanging over the end of the couch. When sharing the love seat there is nowhere to turn. The only move is her letting me rest my legs on her lap or spooning her with half her body hovering over the edge. Despite its intention the love seat is not adequate for the act itself. I'm also past the point of having sex on Ikea furniture.
Anyway, the bed, as my Dad puts it, “is for sleeping and sex.” My bed is the one item we share the most and what I envisioned would bring us the greatest joy. In reality sharing my bed is hard. To get situated I toss and turn without regard which wakes her up. She wears ear plugs because when I fall asleep on my back I snore. She is easy to sleep next to except for the one time I woke up to the sound of an uproarious toot.
“What was that?” I asked startled.
“It was nothing,” she said half asleep. “Go back to bed.”
What it was, was the world's funniest alarm clock.
“I love you, but I hate your bed,” my girlfriend confided.
Ready for an upgrade we shared in the fun of mattress shopping. One other couple besides us was laying on beds. “Get a room!” I shouted at them.
We laid on Beauty Rests and Sealy's. The mattress salesman wearing a blue tooth handed me his card. I figured it was weird he would know where I was sleeping. Dave, at Mattress City, explained the inner workings of the Queen latex Englander as we rested peacefully.
“I can give you a great deal on it,” he said.
“What do you think?” I whispered to my girlfriend.
“I think it's great, but it's ultimately your decision,” she whispered back.
I'm glad she approved since I wanted her to share in the decision. The challenge was negotiating lying on a mattress in the fetal position.
“Let me crunch some numbers and see what I can do for you,” said Dave.
He accepted my counter offer and the mattress was delivered the next day. We are loving the new bed. "It's great for sleep and sex," I wrote on Yelp.
It's been a great investment for our relationship. She doesn't hear me toss and turn and so far I'm the only one farting in bed. All things considered, purchasing a brand new bed is a small price to pay to keep using her Netflix.
January 4, 2013 | 12:52 pm
Posted by Elliot Steingart
My girlfriend and I fought for the first time in 2013 over the crispiness of chicken wings.
“You might want to put the other wings in the pan to get them crispier,” I advised.
“That’s it,” she scowled. “I’m never cooking for you again.”
Forget the contentious drumstick vs wing exchange that took place at Albertsons. Rage steamed within my soul, like buffalo sauce stewing from the crock pot.
“What the f*ck are you talking about?” I shot back.
“I cut two dozen bones, put them in the crock pot, and now you expect me to put them on the pan while you eat?” She asked.
I tore a wing apart with my teeth, split apart a bone and shouted “These are great--really great! I just like a crispy wing.” I noticed she brushed her plate aside. “Why aren’t you eating?”
“I’m not hungry anymore,” she replied.
“You’re eating!” I exclaimed as I ran up to the kitchen to begin frying. I turned manic flipping the wings in the pan. “Welcome to Crispy’s” I yelled. “Crispiest wings in town! Who wants crispy wings?” I asked. “We got em’ here at Crispy's!”
She sat silent on the couch refusing to talk. I preyed on the new crispy wings and pretended to care about the Rose Bowl.
“I’m sorry,” I said. “You made great wings. Seriously, these wings are delicious.”
She remained silent. Knowing she comes from a Stanford family I spitefully declared, “Go Wisconsin!”
“I’m sorry,” I started again. “You made great wings and I had no reason to lose my temper.”
My blow-up weighed on me well into the night. I felt like a real chicken for losing my cool and yelling at the girl I love over some stupid clucking wing dings. I have long struggled with minor rage issues. Though infrequent, when I do lose my temper loved ones are the ones who are affected the most. Rather than fume, I must leave the room and take a walk. I could visit the local library or buy Sour Patch Kids at Albertsons. Cussing make me feel bad and the recipient feel worse. Foul language is for the birds. Here’s to a clean 2013, and not being an asshole, from all of your friends at Crispy's.
December 28, 2012 | 11:01 am
Posted by Elliot Steingart
When my girlfriend invited me to church on Christmas Eve I hid under the kitchen table hoping she would not find me. She did, however. With no way out, I agreed to celebrate Christmas for the first time. If Jesus could make a sacrifice, I could too.
I didn't go home for Hannukah so it was nice to join my girlfriend's family during the holidays. As a token of my appreciation, I presented her parents with a Rosenblum Shiraz, the Jewiest red I could find. Her dad fixed me a wonderful dirty martini which I drank near the Christmas tree marveling at the many sparkling ornaments.
“Who is the Angel?” I asked. “And how does she know Jesus?”
I felt the man of the hour's presence in the family room as I studied the nativity scene. What a scene it was with lots of Christianity taking place. I embraced the holiday spirits and got reacquainted with my girlfriend’s sister home from Stanford. At the dinner table my girlfriend led grace. I did not thank the Lord, but did thank my girlfriend's mother. We all drank two glasses of wine during dinner and quickly grew tired as a result of the wine and the tryptophan from the turkey. I was hoping we would all fall asleep and miss church. Everyone pulled through except for me.
As we took our seats a great thirst took hold of me. Desperate for a glass I nearly drank the holy water. Chewing gum helped for the moment until I saw the altar boys march through the aisles wearing white robes and waving flags in a scene reminiscent of KKK rally. I nearly choked until I saw a purple flag and remembered there are no gay Klan members. Once the music set in I felt more at ease. A sucker for Christmas music, I joined in song during “Hark the Harold Angels Sing.” The actual version seemed different than the version I sang to my girlfriend leading up to Christmas. The real words to the carol are not “Holy is the Jesus night.”
Before communion, the majority of my row knelt to the ground. I sat up straight and felt prayer books flicking the back of my head. At least I was the tallest person in my row for half a minute. I remained seated during communion next to my girlfriend’s sister. I gave her a fist bump for staying back.
After communion, Pastor Ed Bacon delivered a powerful sermon centered on ending gun violence in the wake of the tragedy at Sandy Hook. He thanked the many congregants and guests and even folks of different faiths for attending. So moved by his graciousness, I put $3 in the basket, the most I donated all year to any religion. I even sang the final carol the “First Nowell” extra loud, or especially off key, according to my girlfriend. I survived church and could hardly contain my excitement for opening presents under the tree on Christmas morning.
Attempting to pull my car into the driveway for the night I could not turn the steering wheel. It was locked. I tried again and slammed on the break as the car slid down the hill. No luck restarting the car. Was God punishing me for going to church?
"We'll call AAA tomorrow after we finish opening the presents," my girlfriend announced. The sheer number of presents under the tree amazed me. We needed to call AAA to help us open presents. We sat by the fire opening gifts. We ate breakfast and then opened more gifts. Gift giving was seamless. I only gave one gift to my girlfriend's sister that was in fact intended for my girlfriend. I received new bed sheets, kitchen utensils, personalized stationary and a brand new edition of Monopoly and later a new battery from AAA.
My girlfriend appreciated the gifts I gave her, a lot more so than the Hannukah collection of TJ Maxx toiletries with the price tags still on. Towards the end of the holiday we christened my new Monopoly game. I moved in on properties aggressively snagging Broadway and Park Place early in the game. I dominated the board and became the Jewish property owner collecting rent from everyone on Christmas.
For a first timer, I think I behaved pretty well on Christmas. There was no real reason to hide under the kitchen table. It's not like Easter.
December 20, 2012 | 12:39 pm
Posted by Elliot Steingart
My girlfriend complains I don’t teach her about Judaism but it’s not for a lack of trying. During Chanukah I explained that the candle burned for eight nights.
“It was the oil, not the candle.” She corrected me.
Like she was there! She asks me to take her to synagogue, a big step for someone who wants to learn more about Jewish culture but refuses to watch even a moment of Billy Crystal hosting a special edition of SportCenter.
The point is I’m trying. I invited her to the Jewish Journal’s holiday party, which made for a teachable evening about Jewish culture. When else would she attend a function at one of LA’s hottest nightclubs, “Morry’s Fireplace?” Before the party I prepped her on a few basics such as talking with her hands and using the phrase “you’re kidding” when at a loss for words. I even gave her a short quiz.
“How many questions are there in Passover?” I asked.
“Three?” she guessed.
As I mentioned, it was a short quiz.
Before the party we stopped for dinner at Factors, a signature deli on Pico. We ate pickles, ordered matzah ball soup and drank root beer then walked to Morry’s Fireplace complaining about the cold.
I was excited to meet many of my contemporaries. The rumors swirled about which Jewish Journal stars would arrive. Would the enigmatic Morry make an appearance? Blog Coordinator Jared Baker, perhaps? To my delight, the event was star studded with Jewish Journal celebs like Blogger Ilana Angel of Keeping the Faith; entertainment reporter, Danielle Berrin aka the Hollywood Jew; and even, Tamara Shayne Kagel of the controversial blog Tattletales.
We drank kosher wine and chatted about each other’s blogs. An older women approached me, “Are you Jay?”
While I very well could have been Jewish Journal Web Editor Jay Firestone, I politely said, “No. I am Elliot. ”
“Where’s Jay?” I was pressed.
Because I established that I am Elliot I was therefore not Jay. I could only answer, “I don’t know, but I’m sure he will be here.”
We met a very lively and wonderful new blogger named Michelle Azar. “I write Yoga Breaths” she shared. “It sounds like Yoga breasts,” she laughed. “It’s breaths.”
Also an actress, Michelle has appeared in numerous television programs and recently played the role of “Jewish Woman #3” on Community. She introduced us to her husband, Rabbi Jonathan Aaron of Temple Emanuel, a very friendly and down to earth Rabbi who complained about his Passbook App not working to find his seats for VH1’s “Divas Live.”
“I’m interested in learning more about Judaism,” my girlfriend said to the Rabbi. “My boyfriend doesn’t tell me anything about texts and the traditions.”
Not wanting the rabbi to look down upon me, I introduced him to Zite, my favorite news aggregator for the Droid/Iphone.
With no sign of Morry, Jay, the man of the hour, finally arrived with his girlfriend, Julia.
"A lot of middle aged women want to meet you" I told Jay.
I complimented him on the Journal’s reporting of the Wilshire Blvd Temple bomb scare earlier in the week. I also suggested we take a group picture with all of the writers and bloggers posing with pen and note pad.
“Can we also get all the writer's to sign a copy of the print edition?” I requested.
I thanked Editor-in-Chief Rob Eshman for the opportunity to blog and bade farewell to the rest of my contemporaries.
“What did you think?” I asked my girlfriend when we returned home.
“It was really nice; thanks for taking me.” She said. “I really like the Matzah ball area of town.”
At least she didn’t refer to us as “you people.” Even if she calls Pico/Robertson the “Matzah ball area” she is becoming more educated, slowly but surely. She knows the meaning of “schlep” as in I have no plans to shlep to synagogue. She ought to know I am happy to expose her to other aspects of Jewish culture. Our next lesson of Jewish culture is a Netflix introduction to the films of Charles Grodin.
December 14, 2012 | 11:40 am
Posted by Elliot Steingart
For Hanukkah I gave my girlfriend a bag of toiletries from TJ Maxx. From the moment I heard her say “You left the price tags on,” I knew I was in a heap of trouble.
“It's a bonus gift,” began my cop out.
“You didn't even take the time to wrap the gifts.” She sighed. “It's like you put no thought into this.”
I learned my lesson. TJ Maxx is no Marshalls. Still, I thought she would appreciate the toiletries a little more. One Hanukkah my dad just handed me a shaving bag. No razor. No shaving cream---an empty shaving bag. My girlfriend has no idea what that's like. At least she received toiletries.
Besides, a week earlier she was showered with birthday gifts. She received new eye glasses, experiences like dinner, a Clipper game, and a the gift of a Green Flash Brewery V-neck.
She hurt my feelings when she said I put no thought into her gift. I put thought into getting her a gift for a holiday she doesn't even celebrate. I spent a good half an hour befuddled in the women's section of TJ Maxx. I pulled shirts off the rack over my chest cluelessly to see if I was a size six. After every skirt in the clearance rack I scoffed “Over my dead body” or “that will be the day!”
Exasperated I found my way to the hygiene section. I put fruit flavored body soaps and shampoos up to my nose. I remembered she does not like the smell of bananas. I smelled every banana free soap and shampoo in the aisle. The accusation that the gifts I chose were thoughtless was simply wrong. Lack of thought? “Tuscan Blood Orange body bath” is one of TJ Maxx's finest Italian imports.
Is “Bath and Body Works Passion fruit facial cleanser” not a gift of passion? Do you know what it's like spending seven minutes reading hand lotion labels. I located a special “H20+ waterfall moisture-boosting body balm.” She located the $3.99 price tag.I bought her a brush to straighten her curly hair. She brushed the gift aside.Not even a block of Giardelli peppermint bark could excite her.
“Would you rather I take these gifts back?”
“Maybe,” she said defeatedly.
No way would I return peppermint bark. I was growing tired of Hanukkah before the first official night. “I'm going to get you a nice Christmas gift.” I told her. “You can get me something small. I really don't care.”
“I was going to surprise you for Hanukkah. I'm going to tell you now. I got you a crock pot.”
“Awesome,” I said matching her enthusiasm.
As Hannakah drew closer I apologized for not wrapping her gifts or making her a card. She apologized for not acting more gracious. She is using her toiletries and I am making Chili in my crock pot.
We haven't talked about Christmas presents yet. One of her presents is that I am going to mass with her on Christmas Eve. I am excited to attend church for the first time wearing my new red and green yarmulke. Here's hoping the gift of laughter is an adequate Christmas present. Maybe even a bonus gift?