Oh, you fancy, huh?*

Shortly after resigning from my “real” job as director of a children’s shelter, some of my contacts at the organization got in touch with me to see if I would join one of their volunteer committees. It was billed as a “networking opportunity” and a “chance to give back,” although this latter notion made me want burst into laughter so hard I would double over before straightening and looking at these people through watery eyes, ask, “Wait, you’re serious?” I was pretty confident I had given plenty back in my nearly 4 years, but I signed on anyway, mostly just because I like the feeling of being recruited for things. It doesn’t matter how mundane the opportunity is, if you tell me you “thought of me first,” or “think I would be great for this,” I’m in. I want you to want me is what I’m saying here. (Yep, I went with the Letters to Cleo/Ten Things I Hate About You cover version there. Deal with it.)

One of my fellow committee members won a free happy hour not long ago, for her and something like 50 friends or some crazy number like that. Who on Earth has 50 people they actually want to spend time with just waiting in the wings? I can think of approximately 7 people on the face of the planet I would actually enjoy spending an hour drinking with. The number expands to 11 if some of then will take their clothes off. I can’t even think of 50 people I begrudgingly tolerate, let alone people whom like and would willingly spend time with. Apparently, this chick had a similar issue, because she just invited the rest of the committee and whoever else they wanted to bring. I don’t really know any of these people, but I am not really at a time in my life when I think it is reasonable or prudent to turn down free drinks, so I went.

Of course, because that’s how obnoxious things like this work, the bar was in Midtown. The last time I went to an open bar in Midtown, a bouncer assaulted one of my friends and the police showed up to close down the bar. My boy narrowly avoided arrest, but the real tragedy of the night was that it all went down just as I was starting to make progress with that Asian girl. There’s no justice in this world. And that’s just one of the reasons I hate Midtown, another of which became immediately evident as soon as I walked in the bar. Why — in the name of all that is decent and true in this world — do all Midtown bars look the same? They’re all designed to have this cold, austere appearance where everything is all right angles and high ceilings and rectangular spaces. Every single one of them looks like somewhere you would kill time while waiting for flight. Or where you’d meet a hooker. About 46% of the men there looked as though they were doing the latter.

I left after two Stellas (when in Rome…), but not before using the bathroom, which, predictably had an attendant. This reminded me of a piece I scrawled in my journal a few months ago, which I will now share with you. Keep in mind that this is straight from my private journal, which is the first stop just outside my unfiltered brain, so proceed with caution. I recommend taking breaks to stave off bouts of nausea, dizziness, vertigo, and homicidal ideations. If you are prone to seizures, just stop right now and go lie down or something. Please.

On Christmas Day this year, my parents and I, along with some other guests, had brunch at a well-known, upper crust restaurant in SoHo (ed. note: It was Balthazar, and it was delicious.). It was a lengthy affair, involving soup courses, entrees, prix fixe menus, pre- and post-brunch drinks, coffee, dessert, and no shortage of stimulating conversation over the course of about 4 hours. Toward the end of the affair, I had to — as one might expect — use the restroom. I was not surprised to find that this particular bathroom had an attendant. While this was hardly the first occasion I had to encounter one, this was the first time I wondered: why? Why on Earth do bathroom attendants exist?

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m glad the man has a job. I’m sure that the occupation provides a niche for unskilled laborers to earn a wage, and I’m all for that. I’ll even admit there was a time when I enjoyed the service; it made me feel fancy. Mostly in strip clubs. These days, though, it just makes me feel awkward.

I’m not going to tip him. I’m not going to pay for a service I didn’t request and don’t need or even want, which makes me look (and feel) a little like an asshole. I mean, the guy’s there, doing his job, handing me towels and what not, so I feel obliged to compensate him. And yet, I find it totally unnecessary and without value. A lot of the time I feel so uncomfortable about the prospect of the towel hand off routine that I just leave without washing my hands. (Dinner companions, beware!)

This time, though, I was fortunate. The attendant’s break happened to coincide exactly with my own, so he was taking respite in a stall for the duration of my visit. So, I was spared the discomfort and was able to thoroughly wash (and dry!) my hands in peace, which I’m sure would be a comfort to my family with whom I was sharing a meal, had they known.

I also snagged a full matchbox on my way out. Maybe the attendant isn’t totally without value.

(*With apologies to Drake.)

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Bereavement Day

Due to the unexpected and untimely death of a loved one, there will be no new Tiles today. I’m fine, just not at all in the mood to write sarcastic jokes about banal minutiae. Tiles should be back tomorrow. Until then, keep your ear to the grindstone.

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Seriously, Donald Trump: STFU

An article from GOOD this morning shows that our old boy Donald Trump is at it again, this time advocating to George Stephanopoulos that the United States violate the Hague Convention in order to replenish our oil reserves:

Trump: George, let me explain something to you. We go into Iraq. We have spent thus far, $1.5 trillion. We could have rebuilt half of the United States. $1.5 trillion. And we’re going to then leave. So, in the old days, you know when you had a war, to the victor belong the spoils. You go in. You win the war and you take it.

Stephanopoulos: It would take hundreds of thousands of troops to secure the oil fields.

Trump: Excuse me.  No, it wouldn’t at all.

Stephanopoulos: So, we steal an oil field?

Trump: Excuse me. You’re not stealing. Excuse me. You’re not stealing anything. You’re taking–we’re reimbursing ourselves–at least, at a minimum, and I say more. We’re taking back $1.5 trillion to reimburse ourselves.

Maybe it’s just me, but when I hear a man say in earnest, “to the victor belong the spoils,” I can’t help but picture him wearing a scarlet red, fur-trimmed cape while chowing down on an enormous turkey leg. That’s some monarch shit right there, Donald.

I also like how he uses the classic schoolyard distinction between stealing and taking. “Oh, so we’re not stealing this oil? We’re just taking it? The owners don’t want it any more? Oh, they do. So they’re letting us have it? No; they don’t want us to have it? But we’re taking it anyway? Well, what the fuck, you’re in charge, King Combover.” Can someone please assess this dude for antisocial personality disorder? I’ll even let you borrow my DSM-IV.

Read the full article here. Oh, and in case I haven’t made it clear: Donald Trump, STFU.

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Prices so low you’ll masturbate profusely!

Like any shrewd and prudent cheap broke homeless frugal person, I pay close attention to the “free stuff” listings on Craigslist. In fact, I subscribe to the RSS feed via Google Reader to save me the hassle of actually having to type in keystrokes any time I want to shamelessly troll for free shit. I’m not looking for anything in particular; there’s nothing I really want or need that I don’t have. It’s just in case there is some sort of irresistible offer of free treasure that would simply be too sumptuous to pass up. That day, it seems, has come:

Oh happy day! And here I was thinking I would have to forever get my free porn from the Internet, in the comfort of my very own home. But hark! On yonder interwebs is a gentleman who doth promise not only free pornography of an interracial nature, but also free illegal movies I can use to supplement my own collection. (This is absolutely an actual Craigslist post. See the original here.)

Your ad has left me intrigued, dear Sir or Madam, but I must say it rather raises more questions than it answers:

  • First off, *ahem*…ZOMG PORN!! WHO IN GOD’S NAME WOULD LEAVE PORN BEHIND?? HAND IT OVER, I’LL TAKE IT!
  • Sorry for the outburst. Let’s carry on, shall we? I see that the porn is “black on white,” as you so succinctly describe it, but in which combination? I am a man of particular tastes and therefore demand to know what color labia I can expect to see before I can make a decision.
  • All I have to do is leave you my number and you will call me about this collection of “lots” of porn and “boot legs”? Well then, sketchy Craigslist poster giving away an even sketchier item, I see no reason not to give you my personal contact info. Can I give you my teenage daughter’s number instead? I’m low on minutes and ever since we found out she’s been sleeping around, she’s been grounded to her room, so she’s home anyway. She won’t even be allowed to come with me to pick up my free box o’ porn, so she’ll have to stay home alone. But listen to me, rambling on. Her number is 917…
  • Once we work out the details, I’ll just head on over and meet you in…Georgetown? WTF? Is that a real neighborhood? I’ve lived in Brooklyn for four years and worked with kids and families from all over the borough, and I’ve never even heard of a “Georgetown” before now. I had to Google it, and I’m still not sure where the eff it is. It might be part of Crown Heights…or Brownsville…or Kensington…or Bergen Beach. Way to describe your location in the most obscure way possible, ass hat. I’ll tell you what, why don’t you just bring it over while I’m at work? I’ll leave 10 bucks with my promiscuous teenage daughter to compensate you for the trouble.

To be fair, I can’t blame the guy for his effort. Apparently he wants his life to be porn free, and I don’t know if you’ve heard, but it’s been getting increasingly difficult to give away boxes of porn over the last 5 years.

Gotta go. I’m getting a call from a private number…

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I think I’m paranoid*

On Wednesday morning, I awoke to my usual alarm, and after hitting snooze somewhere between 3 and 17 times, I awoke in earnest. I stumbled from my bed chamber and into the living room, bleary-eyed and shirtless, as is my custom since reaching Week 10 of P90X. I’ve never had abs before, so you know I’m going to blast them now. It can make for some awkward dinner dates, museum tours and parent-teacher conferences, but the amount of times I get compared to Mark Wahlberg makes the arrest record worth it. I’m like two months away from being a professional “after” model. But I digress.

On this particular morning, I was surprised to find that my living room was not empty. This wouldn’t be noteworthy under most circumstances, except that, 1) I had already heard my roommate leave for work, and 2) my roommate is a dude, which this person was not. Indeed, a strange girl was in my living room. After blinking a few times and shaking off some cobwebs, I recalled that my roommate had a girl over for dinner last night, and that she had clearly stayed the night. Apparently the sight of my half-nude form was too much for her to bear, as she quickly looked back down at the shoes she had been putting on with nary a word.

I continued my way through the living room to the kitchen to start making coffee. Recalling that roomie (let’s call him “Johan,” for the sake of simplicity) and mystery girl (henceforth, “Melania”) had only first made each other’s acquaintance on Sunday, and that the previous night had been her first as sleepover guest (that’s an adult term, right?), I grew concerned had a brief panic attack wondered about the Johan’s wisdom in leaving her here…unattended. My head immediately filled with all the mischief an unknown entity could conceivably get into when left alone in one’s private quarters. What if she snoops through his shit? What if she robs him? What if she takes some small, unnoticeable souvenir to start building a creepy shrine which will ultimately be the site of some twisted sexual torture she inflicts on Johan two months from now?

And then, finally, as I regressed at least a bit towards the mean of rational thinking human beings, one question lingered: what the fuck is wrong with me?

What does it say about me that my mind immediately goes to these worst case scenarios, featuring Melania as the devious mastermind? In an attempt to process my predisposition toward paranoid delusions, I started mentally flipping through some example of past irrational behavior on my part:

  • Despite having something like 5 bank accounts, I keep my extra cash in books. Always a different one, to avoid being predictable. And I make sure the curtains are drawn first. (I realize the non sequitur in disclosing my cash security secrets on the Internet. Maybe I’m getting better.)
  • Once, on a date with my girlfriend, I didn’t have anywhere to put my iPod. I considered putting it in her purse, but then realized I would have no recourse if we suddenly had a huge argument in the middle of dinner and she stormed out, never to be seen again. Then I’d iPod-less. Not worth the risk.
  • Similarly, I take my phone with me when I go to the bathroom on dates.
  • Speaking of my phone, a while after I broke up with my last girlfriend and started dating again, I had occasion to see her under casual circumstances. Before meeting up with her, I backed up all my texts off-site, then deleted them and installed a password, lest I fail to adhere to the bathroom protocol.

I can keep going with this, but it’s getting hard to see the screen through the streaming tears. Plus, by my nature there are some examples I cannot readily share. That would defeat the purpose and possibly hurt innocent bystanders. I’m nothing if not compassionate.

So what the Hell is wrong with me? I have reason to believe there may be a genetic component to it, because that same morning I had the following text exchange with my brother:

Dan: “Ways to get robbed, volume 1: have a girl you met on Sunday stay the night on Tuesday; in the morning, leave before she does.”

Bro: “What did [Johan] lose in this exchange? Ipod? Laptop? Cash?”

Dan: “Probably nothing. Point is he didn’t think that bit through.”

Bro: “Not many people do. It’s a fairly common scenario.”

(Before you ask, I absolutely do punctuate my text messages with semicolons.)

After reflecting on this for several days, and writing about it here, I am still no closer to the root of this pattern of behavior. For now, I guess I’ll chalk it up to a combination of the genetic thing and my strong desire to only be stabbed in the front. I at least want the chance to see it coming.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to spend the rest of the day apologizing to my girlfriend. And my roommate. And my ex-girlfriend. And possibly my phone. At least it’s easier to forgive a dude with great abs.

(*With apologies to Shirley Manson and the rest of Garbage.)

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New look, same snark

No, you’re not on mushrooms, Tiles really does look different this morning. Well, maybe you’re on mushrooms too, but that’s just a coincidence.

As promised, I’m doing some straightening up around the place. Among the new features are the Recent Posts and Archive sections to the right, as well as the new Category Cloud. I’m still working on developing new categories and re-classifying all the posts, hence the giant “Uncategorized” right in the middle of the cloud. Right now there are 3 categories: “Shore” and “STFU” are rather self-explanatory, whereas “PSAs” are just general announcement posts (like this one!), rather than having any kind of content. The conversion process isn’t complete yet, so for example if you click on “Shore” right now, you won’t actually link to all the “Jersey Shore” (alternate title: “Soon To Be Banned in Europe!”) posts…but soon!

Hopefully this makes the blog a little more navigable and just a bit…spicier? Saltier? Zingier? That’s it. Zingier.

Until next time, cats and kittens.

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Donald Trump, STFU

Of all the people in this world with ability to grab hold of a wave of publicity and ride it until it gives way, Donald Trump is one of the most adept. Between The Apprentice (which, by the by, was pretty good back in the days of Omarosa, but should have been killed off three seasons ago), The Celebrity Apprentice (gagfest), marrying models 24 years his junior, getting roasted on Comedy Central last month, and uh, all the business stuff or whatever that he does, I can’t remember a time when this dude wasn’t at the forefront of the American collective unconscious. To make matters worse, he’s been pulling this presidential candidacy stunt since October, so now “journalists” (if that’s still what they have the gall to call themselves) have taken on the responsibility of passing on his every movement and utterance.

(Yes, to answer your unasked question, I absolutely think this whole “running for president” thing is a stunt with no actual basis in any event that will actually happen, ever. It’s like when Hulk Hogan announced that he was running in 2000, except that Trump uses slightly less bronzer. Even if he did run, no American with two-tenths of a brain cell would even consider voting for a wealthy business tycoon with a questionable reputation and no political or military experience to speak of…shit. I’ve heard this one before. I better renew my passport.)

Generally speaking, The Donald doesn’t bother me so much. Most of what he says is easily ignored nonsense, and in some ways (strong leadership, high risk tolerance) I even begrudgingly admire him a bit. This time, though, he’s gone too far. In a recent appearance on CNN, Trump decried not only my beloved New York City, but America in general. I shall address the second part first:

“This country is a laughingstock throughout the world. It’s being ripped-off by every country. If you look at what China is doing, they’re stealing our jobs, they’re taking our money. They’re building bridges. They’re building airports. They’re building cities, brand new cities. When was the last time you saw a bridge being built in the United States?”

Yikes. And I thought Liberals were the ones who hated America. At least, that’s what Fox News is always telling me. Riddle me this, though, Le Donster: what are bridges for? They are a structure which provides a route for traveling over an obstacle which would otherwise not be navigable with a land craft, such as over a river or steep valley. Yes, you’re correct. 1 point for you. Next question: when was the last time you traveled on any route which led you to encounter such an obstacle THAT DIDN”T ALREADY HAVE A BRIDGE OVER IT? Just out of curiosity, what did you do when you got there? Caulk the wagon and float it across or attempt to ford the river?

Donald Trumps worst fears realized.

You see, in America, we’ve pretty much already encountered and overcome all the rivers and gaps we are reasonably expecting to deal with. In fact, we took care of most of that in the 19th Century during Western Expansion. It’s not like we’re having daily occurrences of motorists coming across uncharted rivers while city planners say, “Fuck it. I don’t feel like hiring people to build a bridge across that shit.” Stop making it sound like laziness or lack of initiative. These days, our focus is more on maintaining and repairing the bridges we already have. Are you asking when the last time I saw that was? Because if so, my answer is last Saturday, when I drove across the recently repaired Willis Avenue Bridge from Manhattan into the Bronx. I know, I’m just as pissed that it’s been that long since my last bridge construction spotting, too. That’s why the Chinese are outscoring our kids on math and science tests– we’re not building enough bridges! Well, either that, or our failing public education system, which incidentally is much more in need of attention than our bridge shortage. Just a thought.

As far as his lashing out against NYC, The Donald That Is Cooler Than Duck But Not As Cool As Cheadle was quoted as saying:

“You land your plane at LaGuardia Airport, you go to LaGuardia Airport, it’s like a Third World airport.”

Ugh, I know. I remember last time I was coming back from my house on Martha’s Vineyard, they made Vincenzo (that’s my pilot; all the best ones are Italian, you know) approach from the north, so we had to fly right over the East River and Riker’s Island. I swear I could smell the criminal stench as we made our final descent.

Two things you should make note of, Donkey: 1) most Americans DON’T FUCKING HAVE PLANES, and 2) I’m no expert, but I don’t think airports in the Third World have Wi-Fi and Cinnabon. If you’re really going to run for president, you may want to make some attempt at having a passing knowledge about the experience of the common man in America. Maybe you spend your time swimming in a vault filled with gold coins and cleaning up after Huey, Dewey and Louie’s hijinks, but most of us have other shit to do.

As long as I’m handing out friendly advice, here’s another for you, Mr. Trump: next time you get to Snake River Crossing, just pay the toll to take a ferry across. Then, STFU and be happy Mary doesn’t have cholera.

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