Winter is approaching in New York City again. Mother Nature has decided in her bipolarity that she is not only going to change seasons, but to go as cold as ever as soon as possible. Did Father Time leave her high and dry and cheat on her with Earth, Wind, or Fire? Or is she just the seasonal super trying her damnest to be a New York City landlord, mailing the world it’s lease and saying yes, she jacked up the rent, and she jacked it up high. It’s nothing personal she assures you with her snide grin. Then you ask how the hell you can do this another day, year, or decade.
There is only one way to fight a lonely, rough cold day and that is a bubble bath. Shedding my clothes, I slip into the porcelain enclave. White as the snow destined to fall out of the New York sky, I gently ease myself down. Seconds before I turn on the water, I feel the cold surface touch my body. Sure, it’s not nearly as cold as the world I left behind to the comfort of my apartment. It’s not as brutal as the subzero wind, as welcome in my face as an email from an ex boyfriend.
However, it is a different kind of cold. It’s not the evil cold from the outdoors come to crash the short skirt and sexy clothing party I had been rocking all summer. Rather, it is a different kind of cold. It is a kind of cold of the uncertainty the future brings. It’s a cold men never see because they always have the cult of personality to fall back on. However, it is the cold uncertainty that only a woman knows.
As young girls, we are led to believe time is not our friend. We remember overhearing the crow’s feet our mother bemoaned in the bathroom mirror. Yes, we also saw our mothers, beautiful courageous women, down themselves, slamming their bodies using the word “fat.” No, they weren’t obese. It was a pound here, a pound there, and a constant stream of diets that always ended in a binge. On top of that we had male relatives brain wash us. They told us in our 20s men would chase us, but once we hit 30 we were lucky if a man who wasn’t a damaged barfly looked our way. They also told us our clocks were ticking, so we needed to push out a baby or two or five before they developed flippers and Downs Syndrome. We were informed by memo that if we didn’t have these things we were failures. Jessie from Marsha Norman’s Night Mother believed this. She took her own life. Kathy Bates who originated the role would probably think the notion is bullshit.
And here I am, a writer, comedian, and ventriloquist who has had some success yet still barely treads above the poverty line. Of course I am single. The last decade has been spent married to my career. The last 72 hours have been shit. Whenever I hit a patch that is pure shit I reconsider my life. Let’s see, passed over for a hosting job not because I didn’t know about sports but because I didn’t look like I was going to star in a porno film. Then made a stupid money error, thank goodness for overdraft protection. On top of that, I got into a money argument with someone I did a job for that has balls of steel behind a computer. And an internet troll has been tormenting me. No, she’s not a treasure troll. Treasure trolls are cute and pretty. This thing is just desperate and lives by herself under a draw bridge, a good place for her like.
I picture the future like the coldness of the empty tub on my skin. There I am ten years down the road. I live on welfare in an SRO. Not to mention my puppets have gone solo and split. I am 500 pounds and have 16 cats that barely like me, but it is the closest thing I have to love. Sitting next to a huge tub of ice cream, I stick my right hand in. My self-esteem is so gone I no longer use a spoon. And I take a handful of ice cream and shove it in my mouth. Maybe this is the part of the ritual where I am supposed to snap back to the present and start weeping pitifully. I dunno.
I turn on the water. Gently, as if it were a friend giving me a hug after a nice laugh, it touches my skin. Slowly, my nerves, shot from the last 72 hours, begin to calm themselves. Taking a deep breath, I begin to feel better. That is the first step to one’s fortune turning around and things truly getting better. The bottom of the tub has lost it’s cruelty. I no longer feel like I want to burst into tears like the unstable woman in the last several paragraphs.
Positive thoughts begin to cloud my mind. I begin to think yes, the last 72 hours sucked. However, the 9 days before that pretty much rocked. “Hell No, Joe” debuted on both MUZU.TV and Dailymotion, both feeder internet networks to MTV where competition is cutthroat. My music video got on both with no label representation. MSN featured the video as well, which is a huge search engine and a pleasant surprise.
As I soak in the bath I realize perhaps the 72 hour curse is coming to an end after all. This morning I did a delivery for a client my boss’s assistant Jacqueline said was high maintenance. It turned out she was a very nice woman who enjoyed my performance. I had to get some cupcakes, no biggie. Either way the delivery was fun and I was told I was “worth every penny.” If only a straight dude with a job would say that to me.
I also got the email that I am on World’s Longest Variety Show at the Metropolitan Room. Yes, May Wilson is coming. Yes, we will be broadcasting around the world live stream as we race to break the record. Yes, I am pleased to be a part of this event with my brother’s and sister’s in the New York City comedy community. Not to mention Jacqueline sold me for a bikini gram saying I was “pretty.”
Then in the next breath I think of how Jacqueline has been breaking down lately. She keeps saying I am “young and pretty,” but this burlesque queen then cuts down on herself. Yes, Jacqueline is over 40 and how much I will not say. However, she is a good looking lady. This past summer she shed her clothing at my book signing and the guys went wild. They didn’t ask how old she was, nor did they care. Jacqueline is hot. She is sexy and confident in a way I could never be. Yet at the same time every once in a while she too gets sucked into the lie sold to young women by society.
Looking at myself, I know there are some young women who would jump out the window if they were single and childless at my age. Yes, my age. The number where it is supposed to go down hill. Yet I look better than I ever have. FYI, Sylvia Plath killed herself at my age and her writing career really took off. It was a good PR Move. I want to tell Jacqueline not to get hung up on the number. Mae West was sexy until the day she died. The same will apply to Jacqueline.
As I add the contents of the coconut bath gel, the bubbles form around me. My transparent friends with the pink and purple tint dance within and on top of the bath water. At that moment, I realize that I am not alone nor will I ever be. I have my family at the telegram company who are just as entertaining as some of my degenerate relatives but without the need for money or legal advice. I have the comedy community of New York City, where whenever we see each other on the street, even if we have disagreed, we always say hello. I have the men who work in my building that always crack jokes with me. I have my friends at the gym. I have my fellow writers. I have my mentors. I have my Gypsy family in Chelsea who got me hooked on My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding and we all hate ourselves afterwards for watching. I have my family in Pittsburgh. I have my fans who multiply with time, and bring tears to my eyes as they support me and humble me all at once. I have my puppet children who let me give them life and personality. I have a closet full of costumes. I have my dreams at my finger tips. I have…..
Then I realize I still don’t have a man. Having a man is not a requirement. You don’t need one, and they can be a pain in the ass. Actually, most of the time they are an adult child in a grown body who want you to cook, clean, and give them a blow job on command. In return they all believe they are world’s greatest lovers set to sassify you, but they will more or less disappoint.
However, it has been forever and a day since I had a true male companion. I make him sound like a dog, but dogs are loyal whereas men most of the time are not. Still, as I sit in the warm tub bubbles surrounding me it feels like the caress of an imaginary lover who has yet to materialize. Yes, the perfect man who is seen and not heard. Right now he is neither.
It brings back memories of all the guys I had in my life. Yes, the silly nature dudes have and how they seem to crack a joke at the worst moments. At the same time, it is also when I desperately need to laugh and to forget the crap I obsess about. Not to mention the fun times we had as a couple. Sure, things always ended badly, but there were good times. The smell of the bubble bath hits my nose, and I remember all the spring walks in the park and all the train rides to his house. I still see us walking around, freshly blooming flowers in our midst. It was so sickly sweet yet at the same time perfectly ideal in the mind of a lonely woman like myself soaking in a tub that while warm and inviting is also cold and unforgiving once drained.
It’s accepting that I was a bad girlfriend to a good many dudes. Yeah, I was cold. I was unforgiving. Some tried to love me like the bubbles and bath water. Others would eventually turn cold like water that sits too long does and then they became drained just like the tub would. Some deserved it. Others didn’t. Hell if I know the difference between the two. Either way, there is nothing like talking into the night with a dude and then him tucking you into bed via telephone. It’s sweet. It’s cute. It’s love. It’s a memory overshadowed by other rotten actions on both parts.
And then I remember he would probably be disrupting my quiet time if he were here, imaginary bastard. So I wash away the badness of the last 72 hours. I wash away the lost hosting job. They can have the casting couch surfers. Miss Money Shot will cost them money when it is revealed the bitch can’t read a cue card. As for the money mistakes, thank goodness I invested in overdraft protection. Now I know to take breaths and be where my feet are when life gets big. As for the money argument with Mr. Balls of Steel Behind the Computer, it was my bad. His resolution was shitty, but it was my mistake. As for the internet troll, I drown her in my mind in as if my tub were a bottomless pit. That way my resentment can be squashed and I don’t get a felony charge.
As my hands wrinkle, I take it as a signal that it is time to get out of the tub. It is time to face my seventeen errant puppet children. It is time to face my sprawling closet of costumes. It is time to face my house that every time I clean it only gets messier. It is time to face adulthood. It is time to step into my living room with boxes of my book left unread. It is time to face my own home repairs, evidence that there is no man in my life but it’s okay, I got this. It’s time….
I greet the future with warm, fresh, clean towels as a result of the laundry I just did a day before. Touching my skin, it feels as if I am 6 and my mom is waiting for me with a towel after a nice bath. Taking an oversized sweat shirt that is also warm, fresh, and clean, I place it on my clean, shiny skin. In a way, it is as if my mom laid the shirt out as well, even though she lives several hours away. Then I throw on some fluffy mismatched socks. Maybe I don’t measure up as a woman. But fuck the standards. This is my apartment. The people who made the standards never had the guts to be their own person. And here I am, having the guts to wear mismatched socks.
I smell good, I look good, I feel good. The future will be a mix of defeats with failures. It will be bad and it will be good. That’s just life. Over all, it will be fine. I am who I am, and I am where my feet are. That is more than good enough. Hey, sometimes when life stinks you got to take a bath.