Naval Seal

IMG_3700 2

My wife and I are walking along the beach getting our daily Covid-19 exercise. We’re serpentining around all we encounter, thin slicing their likelihood of being a carrier.  It’s a complex analysis where age, external hygiene, gregariousness or the way they interact with their dogs, all contributing to the calculation.  The angle of avoidance ranges from 6 feet for female joggers with headphones to 12 feet for people with cloth handkerchiefs and unleashed kids.  The wind is blowing offshore, sculpting perfect little waves that are lapping gently on to the shore.  The sun is setting low in the western sky and lines of silhouetted figures, neatly spaced, dutifully follow the jagged high tide line.  It looks like what people describe when having a near death experience only these people aren’t distant departed love one’s.  These are mostly folks secretly plotting to hoard an extra 12 pack of Charmin TP from the local King Cullen supermarket.  As we walk further, we find ourselves alone, lost in conversation about how Gov. Cuomo of New York should run for president.

“In these unprecedented times, would it really be so odd for Biden and Bernie to just said they’re focused on getting a good deal on an at home ventilator unit and ask him if he wants their delegates?”

Right then, in the distance, we see what looks like a small dark log moving with the tide in the wet sand.  On closer inspection, it’s revealed to us as a small seal struggling in the shallow frigid waters of the mighty Atlantic.  An overwhelming sense of empathy washes over me for all things living, probably brought on by watching countless nights of Anderson Cooper. I want to do something to help this poor creature.  I grew up in the 70’s watching Flipper so I know what can happen when marine life stays out of the water for too long. I’ve only known this feeling once before in my life.  As a young boy growing up in Houston, I found a baby bird who had fallen from its nest on to my back patio.  With the help of my mother, I fashioned a new crib for the little guy out of a shoe box and shredded paper from one of my older brother’s Penthouse magazine stash.  I also rigged up a warming light the proper distance from the bird to keep him just the right temperature.  We named him Eeep because of the little bird sounds that came out of his frail little bird body. For three days I feed him a high protein solution with an eye dropper.   To our delight, he was absolutely thriving and on the forth night I went to bed optimistically turning my throughs to the teary day when I would release this little rascal back into his natural habitat.  But when I awoke and made my way into the bathroom for his morning feeding, I noticed that the electrical cord supporting the light had slipped down and like a month to the flame,  little Eeep had not only passed into the afterlife but in fact looked like a piece of beef jerky.

Back on the beach I’m determined not to fail this time as I watch an obviously disoriented sea pup trying desperately to return to the safely of his aquatic home.  My wife is busy locating the photo app on my smart phone and doesn’t notice me positioning myself in the shallow water behind the seal.

At this point, owing to the aforementioned boyhood trauma, the seal has yet to be named.

I observe his little tail is split off into two perfect handles, much like a mermaid or those on the mini shopping carts at Wholefoods. I decide that is where I’ll grab him to gently initiate his side back to Elysium.   My wife is now aware of what’s happening and clearly doesn’t endorse my plan.  In fact, she rightly points out that with everything going on, this is no time to end up in the ER with a tunicate fashioned from her Hermes scarf, restricting blood flow to a gaping sea mammal bite.  I can’t hear it.  I’m in some kind of “fog of war” only focused on the rescue.  No sooner do I lay my hands on the critter when he turns around like a wild jackal, with surprisingly well kept but razor-sharp teeth and snarls at me.  I’m naturally startled and without realizing how much weight I’ve shifted to my heels for dragging leverage, I release the little kraken and promptly fall flat on my back into approximately one foot of 40 degree ocean brine.  As I lift myself out of my icy bath, the seal gives me a look as if to say, “you’re not worth the trouble mate” and then rapidly shimmies his little seal body towards the dunes for a peaceful night’s sleep and what I now suspect was his plan all along.  It all happened so fast that my wife didn’t get any media on it and on the way back to the car can’t stop lamenting that her secret dream of submitting  something to America’s Funniest Home Videos has now come and gone.

Nation Takes a Big Trump!



The morning broke to the familiar sounds our girls getting themselves ready for school.  10 and 8 and with their whole bright future seemingly in front of them.  My wife and I drag ourselves out of bed with the worse political hangover of our lives and like two poor college students resigning themselves to the last moldy heal of a long forgotten loaf, we begin the acceptance process of a Trump presidency.   For me it feels like Daja-Bush or an inescapable tractor beam, pulling us and the country into a big stinky compost heap mired in misogyny, narcissism and whatever motivated certain game show hosts in the 70’s.   Last time this happened I took a job in Australia, offering Al Gore a couch to crash on my way out of town.  But things are different now.  I can no longer indulge in escapism fantasies with a business/wife/kids and the final two games of pee wee soccer league hanging in the balance.  Plus, it’s my country too for fuck’s sake and I won’t turn yet another cheek in the liberal tradition and re-expatriate (sorry, but if ever there’s a time for salty language, it’s now!)

It’s also important to note that Lady Gaga’s not having any of it either.  On election night, after the results came in, she mounted a Dept. of Sanitation garage truck in front of Trump Tower, holding up a “Love Trumps Hate” sign.  While I do appreciate the gesture, I’m not sure what it accomplished save giving Trump another opportunity to use the word “nasty” in a tweet.

The girls run into the bedroom on cue for some cuddle time before the dash to the school bus.  “Who won?” the 10 year ago year cries out, “The weird guy or Hillary?”.  We regretfully inform her the front-tushie-grabbing-potty-mouth won by a nose.  “Do we have to move?”, the other asks. “No”, I reassure her, “Manhattan property owners will probably end up getting a break on capital gains… unless he completely cashed out of all his real estate holdings before the election.”  She looks puzzled.  I can’t tell her the objectification of women will continue to be the nation pastime for at least 4 more years unless proximity to the launch codes levels the playing field altogether.

Now they’re gone and we sit over a cup of tea contemplating the different scenarios.

Scenario 1:  Putin becomes a JV partner in Trump Enterprise and the Mexican Wall turns into the largest linear condo project ever conceived, built by out-of-work auto workers and primarily offered to immigrates along with instant citizenship and attractive financing.  Huge!

Scenario 2:  Trump assembles the remaining OJ legal team members, appointing Johnny Cochran as Attorney General and initiates legal action against:

  • Obama: Defamation of character for last year’s white house correspondents dinner
  • Hillary: Treason for not having a strong enough password on her Twitter account. 
  • Jon Stewart: Libel for questioning his rightful status as a New Yorker by condemning the way he eats sliced pizza with flatware.  
  • Lady Gaga: Trespassing.

Scenario 3:  Michael Moore slips him a Flint Michigan tap water roofy and he resigns office to Mike Pence siting chronic irritable bowel syndrome.

Scenario 4:  Despite all the negatives, the constitutional architecture of America and it’s system of checks and balances curbs Trump’s Mussolectic tendencies while the rest of the government find a unprecedented cause to rally behind… that being the alleviation of unbearable global embarrassment and ridicule.  

My coping strategy to tragedy has always been humor.  Finding the irony in an event like this somehow gives me a leveling perspective on a bad situation.  I looked for a quote that would encapsulate this idea and found two.  One from both a revered and reviled American humorist.

  • “When humor goes, there goes civilization.” – Erma Bombeck
  • “With humor, you can soften some of the worst blows that life delivers. And once you find laughter, no matter how painful your situation might be, you can survive it.” – Bill Cosby


Hampton’s Gumball Rally


I’m with the girls getting gas for my impractical off road man toy and thinking about how I’m going to navigate the fresh bagel line at Goldberg’s next door.  It’s like walking on to the floor of the stock exchange during a bull run, where fresh nova and scallion cream cheese are on par with commodities like diamonds, plutonium or Yankee tickets.  I can see already that the parking lot is looking like a gladiator double header at the Coliseum and I fear a confrontation with a 60 year old Soul Cycle devotee that might make me look bad in front of the children.  I start to think about alternatives, like some runny 15 dollar eggs at the Poxabogue golf course greasy spoon or a $8 muffin at Pierre’s overpriced grab and go on Sag Main Rd.  With the turmoil of breakfast choices coming to head, I decide to employ the coping techniques I learned from my online course at the School of Practical Philosophy.  Relaxing my body completely, save the squeezing of the pump handle, I start a meditation that involves deep breathing, a special mantra and clearing of the mind.  In this neutral space I hope to shoo off the chaos of choice and let the right decision just rise to the top.  As my breath rises and falls, my inner voice starts to quite.  Gone are thoughts like, “Crap, that’s getting to be a very big number on the pump” or “I wonder if I have the right parking permit for the Georgica Beach lot?”.

All of the sudden I’m bitch slapped out of bliss by a large crash. I open my eyes and turn around to see that a Mexican housekeeper has rammed the front of her employer’s new Escalade into the iron guard rail protecting the pump.  She’s managed to smash an impressive section of the front right bummer, including the headlights. Glass and pieces of pre-molded body parts are lying everywhere on the pavement.  The SUV is now one with the rail as my mind was one with the universe only moments ago.  I can see her up in the cockpit in a state of shock as her fragile work status passes before her eyes. She looks like a child barely peering over the dash, not like the usual burly, under-employed Uber divers who more commonly captain these tankers.  She starts trying to inch forward, which only makes the grind-fest continue.   I instinctively hold up both hands, palms out,  signifying the international signal for stop.  She takes this as the international sign for “back up” and proceeds to rip the entire front bummer off the vehicle.  Now free, the neutered truck sits idling, holding only 60% of the resale value it held only moments ago. I walk over and give her a sympathetic pat on the shoulder as she climbs down bewildered to inspect the damage. She speaks no English but words are a redundancy at this point.  She knows the score and her eyes tell a woeful story of how the seemingly infinite promise of the American dream can go sideways with one innocent fender bender.   We load the bumper into the back seat and she drives off to face the music, like a dead nanny walking on the fumes of gas she has left in the tank.  Smart money has her on the 12:45 LIRR slow train back to the city.

My blog is by no means a political one but If anyone out there is still thinking about voting Trump to make America great again, please consider that many immigrants contend with far greater hurdles than the Great Wall of Donald to eek out a little bit of dignity in the land of the free.

Chicken-Fried Custer F@$k !



It’s Sunday and my wife has gone to Paris and left me alone with Thing 9 and Thing 7.  FYI, I have changed their code names to correspond to their respective ages.  It’s T minus 6 hours and 23 minutes until bedtime.  I’ve exhausted every diner, bagel shop and pizza joint within a five block perimeter and my wife’s parting comment still rings in my ears like a cautionary Shakespearian tale, “Don’t feed them junk or you’ll have two sick little girls on your hands.”  I know this to be true and I decide to kill two birds with one home-cooked meal. 

I turn to the the inner-web for inspiration and land on a site called Chow Hound.  I’m a Texan in Manhattan and as such, I have a sizable list of things I long  for from the Lone Star State.  Here are my top four:

1. Brisket that is BBQ’ed…not boiled,

2. The ability to display a firearm in the back window of a truck,

3. To lament freely with a fellow native about the state having once been it’s own country

4.  To gorge on the wholesome goodness of a chicken-fried steak. 

The girls are excited about the idea of messing up the kitchen and help me find a suitable recipe for the steak that is fried like chicken and smothered in cardiac arrest gravy, or as it’s commonly referred to in my homeland….The Catcher’s Mitt. 

Now we’re at Whole Foods.  It’s crowded but there’s not a lot of competition for the cheaper cuts of meat.  We zip through the 10 items or less line and return home with a two pounds of round steak, four rustic potatoes for the mash and some green beans. 

Back at home and the kitchen is already basking in a fog of fine flour.  Next time we’ll definitely beat the meat flat before rolling it in the powdery coating.  Thing 9 is peeling potatoes at a glacial pace while Thing 7 starts creating small conceptual sculptures out of the leftover flour and milk. 

Now everything is happening too fast and the whole experiment is unravelling quickly. The potatoes are boiling over in a starchy oozing secretion, the green beans are shriveling in the steamer like an old man’s penis in an icy lake, the steak is spattering hot grease with the violence of a solar flare, Thing 7’s art pieces are solidifying on the counter like fiberglass stalactites and the gravy has the consistency of something I’d expect to come out of the La Brea Tar Pits.

After the meat pounding and potato peeling, the girls lost interest and I’m alone in our small kitchen. It looks like a grizzly crime scene and smells like a truck stop diner that failed it’s health inspection.  I open all the windows to air out our high-rise dorm room but it’s 34 degrees outside and the girls lips start turning blue as they struggle to ladder up to the next level of Donkey Kong with numbing fingers. Actually, I have no idea what game they’re playing because… well…. I’m very out of touch.

It’s T-minus 00:40 minutes until bed time and dinner is finally served.  The only positive thing I can say is that all the items on plate approximate the shape and color of the target recipe. After that, nothing tastes remotely edible and I realize this only makes my effort marginal better than the blue soup scene in Bridget Jones’ Diary.  The star of the show, the steak that is fried like a chicken, is so salty that it could survive four months at sea on the Mayflower with a barrel full of dried cod. The kids are supportive and to their credits take a few conciliatory bites before asking for Raisin Bran.

It’s finally quiet and I think I pulled a muscle cleaning the kitchen counter. I’m sitting alone, sipping some tequila to wash away  the taste, smell and failure of the evening, when Thing 9 comes out and asks me for some more water.  Even a couple bites have left her parched. She returns to bed and I settle in for a well deserved episode of Homeland.  I saw somewhere that Manny Patinkin, who plays Saul Berenson on the show, is a fantastic cook.   I call my friend in Austin and ask him how long Texas was it’s own country.

Springtime in New York


Summer is fast approaching here in the city and the tell tell signs of springs are everywhere.  Why just yesterday the mayor announced that cycling fatalities were up by 15% from last month.  You can also tell it’s spring by the lack of clothing woman wear around town.  Unlike the west coast, New York women are undaunted by their long hibernation from vitamin D, preferring instead to just put it out there like a bunch of morgue escapees attending fashion week. 

Speaking of fashion, Spring also marks a very short window where woman can wear the expensive mid-weight jackets that comprise 80% of their closet space. This creates a frenzy of custom changes over five week period until all genders are relegated to “wife beater” teeshirts to stave off the sweltering summer heat.  

It seems summer is happening earlier and earlier and for those of you that still think Global Warming is a hoax, let me offer these scientific data points for your consideration.

1. Old jewish people are now migrating north for the winter. 

2. My family in Texas are experiencing empathy towards Mexicans. 

3. A Beaches resort is opening in Nova Scotia. 

4. New York City now has a hurricane season.

5. In eastern Long Island, deer ticks are at an all time high due to the mild winters and it’s now a status symbol to contract Lime’s disease in the Hampton’s.

6.  The new “it” pet to have in LA is a camel.

Of course, this morning I’m standing on the Westside Highway with the kids, trying to get a cab and it’s freakin’ freezing.  April 24th and it’s 35 degrees.  Can’t you just picture Fox News anchors throwing darts at an old Al Gore campaign poster.

The Barista Sessions


It’s raining again so I duck in to my favorite morning coffee place.  My barista, Dan, is a wiry Dominican kid from the Bronx. I come here most mornings after I drop the kids off at their overpriced kiddie college. He is by far the most talented foam jockey in the city. He can literarily create any animal from Noah’s Arc with a stir stick and some steamed milk.  He hands me my latte. Floating on a frothy cloud is a smiling unicorn.  Wow!   I’m sure that creature wasn’t on the arc but who cares… it’s a unicorn!  

I usually sit at the bar where Dan and I take turns talking about our lives.  As a single gay dude, his life is full of late nights down in the west village not finding love in all the wrong places. As a hetro dad, mine is riding scooters to the park and apologizing to unsuspecting tourists as my girls run over their feet. Despite this, I really believe he thinks of me as the accepting older brother he never had. As a result, I like to give him advice on things I know nothing about, like dating. This morning I’m telling him to act more straight.  He asks me what planet I lived on when I was single. I explain to him that most men, gay or straight, are goal orientated.  For straight men, the ultimate goal is bedding the unattainable woman. For gay men, it’s to turn a straight guy.  My theory is if he appears to be straight at predominately gay gatherings, he will differentiate himself…duh! marketing 101!  Dan mocks a look of someone having an epiphany and says he’ll visit a Banana Republic right after his shift to purchase a disguise for the weekend. Now, of course I know he’s screwing with me but at least he’s thinking strategically. 

Dan is also worried about his career so we start working on that next.  He doesn’t know what he wants to do beyond his current job at the coffee shop and his other role as a part-time dog walker.  He likes all the CSI shows and thinks he should be a forensic lab technician.  I tell him to forget about that and concentrate on triangulating his talent, passion and work.  “Christ Dan!”,  I start, “You’re the best damn barista in the city, so can we please just focus on skills we can leverage now?”  

After a few minutes of brain-storming, we decide he should collaborate with a writer friend of his on a children’s book that loosely retells the Chronicles of Narnia with illustrations of his crema creations.  He’s still a little stuck on the CSI concept so we decide the book should include a hard-to-solve murder.   He’s excited now and to prove it whips out a lion, a bear, a warthog and a rat for his next five customers.  He asks me where I learned all this stuff about careers.  I tell him I once attained a Tony Robbins weekend where, in-between walking on hot coals and hugging a lot of people, I picked up a thing or two about following your bliss.  Oddly, that seems to be enough validation for him. 

The rain is letting up outside so I decide to make a dash for the office.  I tip him a little extra today because the dog he usually walks had some kind of mental breakdown and won’t be leaving his crate today.

Homo Erectus

homo recectus

Thing 1 is studying early man right now in her social sciences class.  She killed a pig for food in a simulated survival game on her school issued ipad?  We thought the swine slaughter was a little extreme but given the importance of bacon in our society, I suppose it’s important to instill some sense of where it comes from.

It’s only a matter of time until the school gets to the part where these early dwellers reproduce, so I want to inform my girls that males aren’t necessarily evil but merely prisoners of a reptilian brain that fails them consistently. I want to be more evolved than the fathers who tend to cast all boys as homicidal teen rapists, hellbent on booty pilfering.  All that strategy has ever really gotten any dad is girls craving the very thing we want them to be repulsed by.  We also what them to marry one of these degenerates one day and make grand babies and therein lies the dichotomy of being a dad with daughters.

Since I am a stanch believer in the laws of evolution, I’m sure I can find clues in primitive culture that explain the current day behavior of boys in a more inclusive philosophy.

My thesis begins with the first primordial man who ever grabbed the hair of a primordial woman and attacked her with his dirty little uncircumcised wennie.  In this case, I imagined a day in the life of a hairy, horny, cave man.

5:00am:  He wakes up in the cave at first light with a morning boner. He then rolls over to the first available female and backdoor’s her while she sleeps because face to face sex with morning breath is not conducive to natural selection. 

5:03am:  He pre-maturely ejaculates because drawn out sessions with his moleskins around his ankles would leave him vulnerable to attack from other alpha males or a saber tooth tiger. At least that’s his excuse.

5:04am:  He falls asleep because of the natural post orgasmic sedative that gets release by the male nervous system.  This insures he stays close to the female so another male can’t jump in, thus cockering him and negating his genetic material . 

6:00am:  He sets out following the tracks of a wild bore. She tells him the tracks are at least three days old.  He turns around,  clubs her on the head and follows the trail anyway, not asking anyone for directions. 

6:15am:  She staggers up, gets the kids to cave painting class and sets out in search of berries and water.

6:00pm: She comes back to cave with fresh water, berries and an antelope carcass that died of natural causes. 

6:45pm:  He comes back empty handed and kicks their pet armadillo in frustration (yes, armadillos did exist back then).

7:00pm: He bones her out of spite and resentment, falls sleep. 

7:15pm:  She uses a vibrating Madagascar roach to pleasure herself while he drools on the new water buffalo pelt she just cured.

7:30pm:  He has a disturbing dream about bathing with his hunting buddy, thus propagating the myth made by all gay men, that every straight man is secretly gay (maybe thats where the term Homo Erectus originally came from).

So, what have we learned from this exercise? First, we have traced the roots of the post sex phenomena that occurs in males, where fevered passion turns to lethargy at a speed that it can only observed through the lens of an IMAX stop motion camera.  This on/off switch, which seems to confound young girls, is nothing more than a developmental lag that will take several more thousand years to correct.  Put another way, no matter how domesticated your pet scorpion, no matter how many tricks you teach him, he will still sting you, even on your birthday. It’s just his nature… he’s a scorpion.  Maybe someday the scorpion will eventually evolve into a harmless creature but not until he loses his stinger and that ain’t happening anytime soon.  

Second, once a young girl obtains this blueprint of the male brain, she can make informed decisions about her romantic life during those awkward teenage years. She might even decide to forego all the aggravation of boys and become a lesbian, because as any straight man will tell you, all woman are secretly lesbians. 

So, after careful consideration of the whole issue, I’ve decided to opt out of being a chaperon on next month’s field trip to the natural history museum until I’m better prepared.

Ahhh, another parenting crisis procrastinated! 

NYPD Chicken

Tow Truck

I’m not a hardened criminal or anything but I’ve always had a heathy disrespect for the law. Not felony law but for anything that can result it a traffic or parking violation. I double park to get a coffee in Tribeca with my hazard lights on. I refuse to pay the $360 for a non-resident beach parking sticker to surf in Montauk because I figured out I’d have to get pinched three times before I start losing money on the deal.  Recently I’ve taken to switching in and out of the HOV lane on the Long Island Expressway with no regard for the legal entry or exit points. It’s not that I think that the rules don’t apply to me, I just don’t fully agree about when.

For most of my life I was an amateur offender but then I discovered my mother-in-law, an Australian, was quite infamous for transporting a variety of perishable goods through several international jurisdictions .  Her crowning achievement was successfully passing a 10 kilo christmas pudding through customs at JFK in her carry on.  Would I call her a mentor…possibly.  An inspiration… most certainly.  But a while back I came face to face with my biggest challenge yet.

Thing 1 and Thing 2 were attending a summer camp at a school in Chelsea and I’d been using the car as a makeshift school bus for most of the summer. It’s only a 20 minute loop from our apartment, if I’m up to attempting the “triple park” on 10th Ave or the “partial-back wheel-fire-hydrate-overlap” around the corner on 25th.  Both these maneuvers have a lower probability of success than the “roommate switch scenario” in episode 97 of Sienfeld. It all depends on how quickly I can dispatch Thing 2 at the drop off point. Thirty seconds here or there can be the difference b/t a leisurely coffee in the neighborhood before work or $500 in fines and a trip to the impound lot on pier 76.

On this particular morning Thing 2 was having separation anxiety and was sticking to me like a velcro strip on a cashmere sweater.  After finally decoupling with the promise of a fluffy toy at some non-specific time in the future, I started sprinting down the stairs two at a time and managed to twist my ankle five steps from the bottom.  Without realizing it, I must have blurted out my default expletive “M#$ther F@cker”, because uncharacteristically, the security guard at the front desk asked to see my parent ID laminate.  We’re supposed to wear them at all times but unfortunately I’d chosen to ignore that rule too (and NO the karmic irony is not lost on me).

I finally got out of the TSA-lite interrogation, hobbled out to the street and rounded the corner. To my dismay I saw a monster vehicle, like something out of Road Warrior, backing up to my car and making that loud backing up beeping sound.  It was an NYPD heavy duty towing rig, suitable for discarding anything from a mini to to a dump truck in seconds.

Everything started moving in slow motion, like the command ship docking with the Lunar module in Apollo 13,  I could no longer fill the pain in my ankle.  I circled around the back of the car and could see I was in the officer’s blind spot.  Like a modern day McGiver, I quickly hit the remote ignition button and unlocked the doors simultaneously.  I quickly slipped  into the driver’s seat and threw the car in reverse as the tow truck was still backing up.  When I had enough clearance, I cut the wheel sharply to the left and hit the gas. As I passed by the officer, i noticed she had headphones on and was jamming out to some apparently upbeat tune and not really looking where she was going.  Maybe she was just waiting to feel the contact of my car before looking back. She glanced over and actually smiled at me as I cruised by.  I returned with a nervous wave and disappeared into the morning traffic on 11th avenue, not knowing (or caring) if the officer was going to keep back up all the way to the East River.  All my senses were buzzing and I felt utterly alive. I had the rush of the chronic gambler.

Back in the hood, sipping on a creamy latte at my “go to” beanery, I sat in solitude, bathing in silent smugness as I watched my emergency flashers reflect off a bright red “Loading Zone” sign.

Self Identity: speedo protocol


Four long hours on the Long Island Expressway.  I am doing a family jailbreak under the guise of meeting the plumber at our house.  I decide to head straight for a dip in the Ocean. I want to wash off the stench of the city with the biggest neti pot there is… the mighty Atlantic.   It’s mid July but the turbulent grey waters are still frigid and mean.  Nobody on the beach at this late hour, so I slip into a pair of old Speedo’s I keep in the car for convenience, comfort and time management.  

This particular form of male swimwear is known around the world by many different names like, “weenie bikini”, “root suit”, “banana hammock”, “nad swag”, “ball bag” and my favorite, “budgie smuggler”, coined after a small Australian bird.  While generally recognized as an acceptable form of beachwear abroad, in this country,  the “cucumber slumber cabana”  carries all the cultural shame and more potential for a hate crime than being a homosexual in 1950’s.  In other words, if your not Michael Phelps, Arnold Schwarzenegger or a Chippendale stripper, you only don one at your own peril here in the land of the free.

There’s a chill in the air but the long sprint from the parking lot to the water’s edge, coupled with the exhilaration of doing a near streak keeps me warm.  I plunge into the violent froth and the temperature shock hits me like a full body defibrillator.  I come up gasping only to catch a heaving five foot shore break square on the head.  I’m tossed around like a rag doll in the impact zone, my exposed skin grating across the rough sandy bottom.  I’m finally spat out in the shallows like a dead jellyfish with a pound of sand in my drooping trunks and not much else due to the significant shrinking effect of the icy seas.   I stagger to my feet and manage to reach the top of the sand berm before the next wall of water smashes to the shore. I was in the water less than 20 seconds.  With disheveled hair,  bright red exfoliations and wearing what could only be described as a dirty diaper sent through a wood chipper, I make the long cold walk of shame back to the car.  I’m so beat up, I make Tom Hanks’ Castaway character look like a Calvin Cline underwear model.  I don’t have the strength to change, so a lay a towel on the front seat and prepare for the short drive back to the house.

I’m startled by a knock on the passenger side window.  I look over and like the sirens in Homer’s Odyssey,  two attractive coeds are peering through the glass looking extremely needy.  One is wearing a bikini top with a wrap and the other has on some kind of translucent sun dress.  I roll down the window and they ask for a lift up Ocean Rd to Bridgehampton. Before I realize what’s happening they pile in.  Quickly I become aware of my appearance and my face turns the color of my new contusions.  They turn out to be Russian pack backers, in town for the summer working for slave wages at an overpriced and under delivering french restaurant called Pierre’s. The SiriusXM “Hits” channel is playing and the ruskies quickly fall under the false impression I’m current.  After discovering our common love of Cold Play, the one in the back asks me if I was swimming.  The snarky side of me wants to say, “No spear fishing.” but I’m in no position to be sarcastic. The other says I should come sit in her section at the restaurant tonight.  I start to think they might be daylighting hookers but then it dawns on me that one good tipper at Pierre’s prices can make your whole night.  

I now hover over the car in my mind’s eye with calming objectivity as we approach the drop off area near highway 27.  I conjure up an image of one of our nosy, gossip-staved neighbors, witnessing the scene and then painting the picture of a mid-life crisis gone horribly wrong at her next bridge party.  I can see her sitting patiently for a triumphant bid then casually dropping the bomb where she saw me the day before,  looking like Mr. Burns in a pair of “rocks jocks”, hooking up with two next-gen Trotskyites.  

I can’t get them out of my car fast enough.  I’m driving home and thinking how this is one of those fantastical exceptions where things don’t appear as they seem and the logical explanation is not always the right one.  

I next contemplate how to frame this strange encounter to my wife and realize I must first gauge her ability to  suspend disbelief, as she would when watching a movie like X-men or Shrek.  Although this story is non-fiction,  it still draws from a mythical cosmic intervention, as she must now draw upon our mighty matrimonial bonds and the implied faith of our sacred vows.  In short, she must simply consider and ultimately accept that this is merely a case where one crossed the culturally accepted boundaries of how far a man can venture from the beach in a “sausage sling” without getting into trouble. 

Life’s Mysteries explained in the context of Guacamole



I’m not sure  if art imitates life or life imitates art but I’m certain that a quick lunch at Chipotle can teach you everything you need to know about human behavior.  When you first walk in you realize you’re in a microcosm of the modern condition and a perfect analogy of the way life’s choices get more complicated as we move through the time continuum.

First, you’re faced with a very simply choice.  Do you want your ingredients wrapped safely in a warm tortilla or do you want to experience the chaotic, no-boundary-free-for-all of a burrito bowl?  This separates the anarchists from the suits, the fit from the diet conscience, the controlled from the addictive.

Next you’re given a warm up series of binary choices that have come to represent the best of pavlovian response conditioning and our mind numbing acquiescence to advertising.   White or brown rice?  Pinto or black beans?  As we move down the Tex-Mex zombie chow line with increased velocity, we become seemingly more confident with every decision. This false sense of control leads us to the next critical personality divider… meat selection.  This is where demographic segmenting is on displayed for all to see.  Chicken, for the passive lemmings, beef for the old-world-incumbent-patriarchal-planet-killers who deny global climate change,  tofu for the rudderless souls who shouldn’t be at Chipotle in first place and finally pulled pork for those who have no faith in an afterlife.

Having made the hard or merely instinctive choice of the main ingredient, a confusing array of creams, salsas and cheeses awaits the senses and weakens our resolve with Chipotle’s final goal in mind…. to get us to convert on the guacamole upgrade.  Every moment thus far has been leading up to 8 out of 10 Chipotlians spending an extra  $2.50 on one heaping spoonful of this heavenly, hearty and slightly salty delight. It sits there at the end of the line under well appointed lighting like Mexican pixie dust.  When you see it you can’t help but to say, “aaaaand guacamole please.” At that moment, when the server replies, “It’s extra, is that ok?”, your status as an overpaying consumptionist is put squarely up for challenge.  For if you say “no”, all those in line and those newly green-carded behind the counter, will know that you denied yourself a simple super-sizing and you will be judged harshly for it.  The only thing more damaging to your reputation than saying “no” is asking “how much?”.  This only serves to pour hot sauce in an already gaping wound.   I can’t stress it enough.  This is not advisable path, even if your the only one in line…. which never happens at Chipotle.

At this point, you are invited to partake in a high margin beverage or chips with (you guessed it) guacamole.  You then pay somewhere between 13-16 dollars for the entire package and feel a twinge of stupidity followed by the guilty pang of fiscal responsibility.  However, those feelings quickly fade as you pick up the weighty bag and realize you’ve just received incredible value from a cost per pound analysis.   I hope this helps everyone understand why Chipotle is one of the most profitable chains in the history of fast food and as a by-product, is a source of endless psychological reflection, whether you like it or not.