Friday, February 26, 2010

John Lennon Had It Right

A few months ago, much to my surprise and delight, I met someone in The Schmuck Parade who actually was second-date worthy. And third and fourth…and before I knew it, we were, um, I think the term is “dating.” It’d been so long, I almost forgot what it’s called.

Regular readers of this blog know that when I write about The Schmuck Parade, it’s only in the most general of terms. They’re familiar with Guy #1, Guy #2 and Guy #3, as well as Guys #17, #18, #19 and beyond. Readers also know that I never, ever write about people I’ve actually met in The Parade.

However, if I was going to write about this guy that I’m not going to write about, I would tell you that he seemed to be a refreshing change from the other marchers I've encountered. Unlike so many of them, he appeared to be kind, fun, funny, generous, interesting, thoughtful, sweet and just generally a nice guy. We enjoyed spending time together and in the little more than two months we spent “keeping company,” he’d met a handful of my friends, and we’d done our share of cooking at my place, as well as poking around in the city—Central Park after a snowfall, Chelsea Market, the High Line, and, just two weeks ago, a trek to Flushing, at the end of the 7 train, on the eve of Chinese New Year. There we checked out the neighborhood and enjoyed yummy duck sliders, pork dumplings and spicy beef skewers from vendors at barbecue carts that dot every corner around Main Street and Roosevelt Avenue.

Finally, it was nice to step out of The Parade and stick with one person…quick emails during the day, longer chats by phone at night, city adventures on the weekends. Nice…

Until I got dumped.

By email.

And a nebulous one at that.

Shocked? Baffled? Disappointed? Hurt? Yes, yes, yes, and yes. But, in the spirit of making lemonade from lemons, here's a refresher on some of the important lessons that the shock, bafflement, disappointment and hurt also brought my way:

Lesson #1: The Schmuck Parade is most aptly named.

Lesson #2: People are complex creatures and often are not as they appear to be.

Lesson #3: As my sister always says, when it comes to apartments, jobs and men (OK, “affairs of the heart” for you straight guys and lesbians who may be reading this), always go with your gut. It speaks louder and much more clearly than either of its peers: heart or brain.

Lesson #4: Gloria Gaynor is great company and the louder, the better.

Lesson #5: John Lennon was oh-so right, and I’m getting by with a little help from my friends. They’ve been great and I am ever grateful for so much of what they’ve had to say:
Friend #1 on Facebook chat: “He just wasn’t good enough for you. That’s all.”

Friend #2, who has endured her own share of Parade bruises: “I think that this one will have to get the "SCHMUCK of the YEAR" award!!!!!”

Friend #3 on IM: “Ugh, so sorry. You have plans for Purim?”
Me: “No.”
Friend #2: “Come to TST. Saturday night. We’ll do dinner first, then the schpiel.”

Friend #4, who met him: “I am shocked that I could be so wrong about an adult. I feel duped. Thank God he's outta here now, before you wasted time with the SCHMUCK.”

Friend #5 on Facebook: “I wish Facebook had a "You are completely awesome and deserve WAY better" button.”

Friend #6, a cantor, also on Facebook: “I will sing a high note in his general direction! The kind only dogs can hear but that will resonate in his head and give him a migraine!”

Friend #7, one of my study buddies, in an email: “Oy, what a shame that he wasted your time. But, as I always say - we do learn lots about ourselves and about others whenever we have the courage to embark on a relationship and let someone in even a little bit....So, it's up to you to keep doing what you're doing, and hope and have faith that you will meet an equally mature, wonderful, deserving companion.”

Lastly, this from Friend #8, my other study buddy, when we met after class this week: “We’ll get you a tuba and you can get back in The Parade.”
No, not just yet, but thanks to all of you, I am indeed getting by with a little help from my friends.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Plan B Saturday: Food, Family, Friends and Fun

For reasons that are not entirely clear to me, my weekend plans fizzled at the end of last week. Lucky for me, I was able to salvage my Saturday and ended up having a great day filled with food, family, friends and fun.

First up on the agenda was tagging along on a gallery talk my sister was slated to give at the Metropolitan Museum of Art at 11:15 a.m. Only after I met up with my father in the Great Hall of the Met, however, did we learn from her that, unbeknownst even to her until a few minutes earlier, the tour had been canceled. Undaunted, she guided us deftly through the galleries, pointing out the 19th century paintings she’d prepared for the tour, as well as a few others that sparked our interest. We started with Edouard Manet’s Young Lady in 1866 and then compared it with Gustave Courbet’s Woman with a Parrot before moving on to admire the handiwork of Henri Fantin-Latour's floral paintings. A few galleries away, we compared this Madame Cezanne with this one, in which she seems to be saying, “Oy, Paul, another portrait?!…Enough already.” On our way out, we checked out a few Rembrandts (Did you know that Rembrandt was his first name and that his full name was Rembrandt van Rijn? I didn’t…) and Renoirs, including this one, all expertly explained by my sister.

Having absorbed enough culture for one day, we headed downtown on the bus to Koreatown, where we enjoyed lunch at Pho 32 & Shabu, grateful for warm, hearty soup on a cold day. Here's my dad enjoying his:
From there, we each headed home—my sister to Union Square, my father to New Jersey via Penn Station and me across town to Kips Bay.

A bit of reading for school, a welcome Shabbos nap, a quick change of clothes and I was off again, this time to meet some friends for an early dinner and perhaps a movie. Our tacos and fixin's at Cascabel Taqueria proved to be as yummy as my pho lunch, and The Blind Side was the perfect feel-good movie to round out out a really nice, feel-good kind of day.

So, although these weren’t my original plans, my Plan B Saturday was quite satisfying nonetheless—and maybe even better than what might have been.

Hmmm…who knows what next week will bring…

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Joy of Peri Smilow

Although I can’t carry much of a tune, I certainly do enjoy listening to them. The ones I click to most often on my iPod are those on the “Jewish” playlist – everything from Beth Schafer, David Broza and Julie Silver to Debbie Friedman, Kol B’Seder and the liturgical songs on the Union’s Biennial CDs. If I’m not listening to Jewish music, sometimes I’m writing about it. You can read some of my muscial musings here and here and here.

Over the weekend, I received a copy of Blessings, Peri Smilow’s new CD and, needless to say, I've listened to it a few times since then. With its beautiful music, lyrics and sentiments dancing in my head, I’ve decided that Nachshon ben Aminadav, the title character from One Small Step on the Freeom Music Project CD has to take a back seat at least for now (sorry, Nachshon) to Joy, my new favorite offering on the Blessings CD.

Of course the lyrics alone can’t begin to do justice to Peri’s rich, clear voice or the deep, smooth piano that accompanies it, but here they are nonetheless:
I wish you roses in the spring,
Fledgings on the wing,
Fireflies that sing your name.

I wish flowers in the grass,
Memories that last,
Shelter from the passing rain.

I wish you joy.
I wish you joy.
I wish you joy.

I hope the wind is at your back,
Keeping you on track,
That you never lack for love.
I hope you’ll walk beside your heart,
Even in the dark,
Guided by the stars above.

I wish you love.
I wish you love.
I wish you love.

So wherever you may roam,
Out there on your own,
Home is just a heart away.

I wish you joy.
I wish you joy.
I wish you joy.
Better than imagining these tender words set to music, get a copy of the new CD and listen for yourself. I know you won’t be disappointed.