Posted by Elliot Steingart
Sometimes I feel like people are out to get me. My courage was tested this week, not once but twice. The first time involved dropping off shirts at Celebrity Cleaners.
“Is this your first time here?” asked the Persian girl behind the desk.
“I've been here once before.” I said. “Last name is Steingart.”
“How you spell?” she asked.
“S-T-E-I-N-G-A—R—T as in Timmy,” I announced.
“Not in system.” She said suspiciously.
I was surprised since my old dry cleaner recognized me in the system as someone who brought in dirty shirts and pants.
“Can I pick up tomorrow?” I asked.
She gave it some thought. “Yes, fine.” She agreed as she handed me a pink receipt.
When I came back to pick up my laundry I presented her a coupon.
“I can't accept this,” she said. “Must be $20 or more.”
I don't know why it’s called "fine" print when it always screws you. I sighed as I looked at my pink receipt. I looked up at the girl whose back was turned. I noticed the name on the pink receipt I held in my hand wasn't mine.
The name printed on the receipt was STEINFART. The FART jumped off the receipt. There was no GART, but a giant bold faced FART. STEINFART, ELLIOT. This seemed like a steep price to pay to pick up my dry cleaning the next day.
It finally registered that STEINFART was the name they had in their system. Too embarrassed to correct her, I paid for my dry cleaning as STEINFART. The name that tormented me throughout childhood is now on file at Celebrity Cleaners forever. I said nothing. I left as STEINFART. While STEINFART is a celebrity, STEINGART is some shmuck that needs to learn how to iron.
The worry of finding a new dry cleaner was offset when my girlfriend invited me on a romantic movie date to see Zero Dark Thirty. Walking into the theatre I noticed an armed security guard. I gave him a head nod once I saw he was strapped. While my girlfriend stood in line for popcorn I found our seats towards the top in an empty row. Checking my phone I heard a hacking cough coming from an elderly man in the row behind me. I took that as a sign and moved a few rows down. My girlfriend returned with the popcorn and the movie began.
During the opening sequence frantic 911 calls are heard from people still inside the Twin Towers. A few new audience members shuffled into the theatre arguing in Farsi or Arabic. They pointed toward the seats next to me and filed in. In the darkness of the theatre both men resembled the Al Quada detainee on screen. My girlfriend squeezed my arm during the first water boarding sequence. The man seated next to me kept looking over at us, tapping his foot and fidgeting as thought he couldn't remove a wedgie.
Watching suicide bombings on screen did not calm my nerves. The tension grew palpable as the armed security guard from the lobby entered the theatre. The security guard surveyed the audience and left. After the next torture scene the person sitting next to me began scratching his chest, and blurting out words I could not understand.
I feared a bomb was strapped to his ankle like the one I saw on screen. I had my chance to alert the security guard. I could have saved the lives of everyone in the theatre, but I did not want to break the rule of talking during the movie. Finally, my girlfriend leaned over and shushed the suspected terrorist. He stopped talking.
In hindsight I probably sound like a pretty big chicken. Not everyone with brown skin is out to get me, just the dry cleaner.
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January 4, 2013 | 11:52 am
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.
November 1, 2012 | 10:47 am
Posted by Elliot Steingart
Relationships are about compromise which is why I gave my girlfriend a night stand. She spends enough time at my place that she deserves an end table. While I accept her nightstand is hers to decorate, the chaos on her nightstand looks like it was caused by Sandy.
My nightstand is clean and uncluttered. I house my glasses, keys, and pocket change along with Charles Grodin's 2009 memoir, “How I got to be Whoever it is I am.” It's a 60 year old man's nightstand. The key essentials are within arms reach. Beyond the promise that stories of Charles Grodin's Bar Mitzvah will put me to sleep, I require nothing else but an an appropriate temperature to doze off.
My girlfriend does not sleep as well, and her nightstand is a reflection. Next to her bed she keeps Melatonin, a hormone to make her sleepy and two bright pink ear plugs. Sleeping next to me is clearly a challenge. I appreciate that. I snore a bit and make jokes in my sleep. I tried to help her fall asleep better by placing a framed picture of me and my late Golden Retriever, Cody Boy on her nightstand. In response she stuffed a red flower inside an empty beer bottle. It took me a while before I even realized where the flower came from.
“You took a flower from the Korean BBQ buffet?” I asked her.
“You weren't going to buy me any,” she sassed.
I believe there is a better place for a red flower growing out of beer bottle. That place is her apartment. There is more to her nightstand than sleep medication and arts and crafts. She has reading material on her nightstand, a hard bound copy of “365 Days of Salad.” It took me a moment to figure out how “365 Days of Salad” found it's way into my apartment.
“Did you take this from the fundraiser?” I asked.
“You don't buy me books,” she retorted.
“So you saw '365 Days of Salad' and thought to yourself, I have to have that. I need that much salad?”
I like salad fine, but what would be achieved by having this salad bible bedside? It's a glorified cook book, an index of exotic and organic greens. The author describes “A medley of corn with glossy black beans, pale gold quinoa and red tomatoes and bell pepper make a colorful, eye-catching salad.”
“Eye-catching” but not before bed. A fall salad of apples and walnuts of stilton cheese? This book makes up its own cheeses.
For someone who reads so much about salads, it would be nice if she actually made one from the book. Her salad of Blue Moon and sleeping pills is not featured in “365 Days of Salad.”
The thought of separating chick peas from leafy greens is enough to keep me up at night. Not too mention the time Lovebirds in Pasadena placed their fruit tray atop shreds of romaine. Lettucey cantaloupe, the stuff of nightmares. And looking at “365 Days of Salad,” the flowery beer bottle, the bright pink ear plugs, that might soon keep me up at night!
My hope is that a new day will rise when the nightstand will return to its original state. The Melatonin will find itself in the medicine cabinet and "365 Days of Salad" will be donated to Lovebirds. Maybe not before feasting upon potato salad with fava beans, green garlic and creme fraiche to be served on her clutter free night stand.