As if being married to me wasn’t thank you enough… (My NYC Marathon thank you)

thank you shout out

I am working on a full recap but I’d be remiss if I didn’t devote a little space and time to give a shoutout to the amazing support system that got me through not only the 26.2 miles of the NYC Marathon but also the hundreds of miles logged leading up to that race day. No, this is not just another shameless Imodium AD plug – although I do owe them a thanks as well – this is a testament to the amazing, funny, crazysexycool, gorgeous, inspiring woman that just happens to be my best friend and wife.

 

logo nyc marathon

 

 

Unless you count the night of our Honeymoon when we broke the bed twice, I’ve never really been congratulated for my physical prowess. I started running about year ago and famously ended my first race getting popped in the chops by a fence while face planting into the pavement with a bloody nose and then getting trampled like Mufasa did by the wildebeasts in The Lion King from the rest of the runners. Talk about a sign to not take up running – those were obvious red flags that I ignored.

This and the NYC Marathon finisher medal are the only trophies in my sports case...

This and the NYC Marathon finisher medal are the only trophies in my sports case…

 

I’m a Klutz through and through, so when I took up running, you can just imagine my wife’s concern. After all, I’m the guy that broke the same ankle two years in a row on the same day, sprained ligaments in the other ankle last year because I didn’t have my glasses on and walked into the bathroom door, fell face first into a brick wall and recently got a black eye when I tripped while chasing my son in our kitchen and fell into the garbage can face first. Basically there’s not a single speck of coordination running through my body but she’s been nothing but encouraging. And this is from my wife who had never heard of me running in my life except for the time I went for a run in Hyde Park while studying abroad in London and got so winded that I got an ice cream cone and took a cab back home – not the tell-tale signs of the track star I’d turn into.

 

lion king trampled

 

 

Through every run – long and short – she’s been a constant source of positive encouragement and believed in me fully without question when I cooked up this NYC Marathon pipe dream. Whereas I didn’t fully think I could do this until about nineteen miles into the Marathon on race day – she was always my loudest cheerleader. I struggled and doubted while she massaged sore feet and applied the icy hot…Each and every mile became possible because she believed in me and that was contagious.

 

True-to-life rendering of me in all my athletic glory.

True-to-life rendering of me in all my athletic glory.

 

I’m not sure if you know how many people come out and line the streets for the NYC Marathon, but out of those two million people – there was no bigger smile or louder cheer to be found than hers at mile 18 & mile 23. As I made my up to mile 18, I glanced up and there they were – my wife, my two sons and my mother-in-law – with huge smiles and tearing eyes like an oasis in the desert. Shouting, screaming, waving a big orange balloon and beaming with pride – there they were. A big hug, a quick kiss, a fast photo and they made me feel ready to conquer anything.

mile 18

 

As I darted away, knowing I’d see them again in five more miles I started to wonder why I hadn’t believed in myself when they so overwhelmingly and unequivocally believed in me. Why was I the only one who didn’t think I could do it? Their excitement was contagious and the proud looks in their eyes carried me through. I never cared about the timing – just that I could finish the marathon and have fun with it, and after seeing them there was no doubt that I could and would make it through.

running guy

As I arrived at mile 23 – there they were again screaming and even more excited than the first time. Kisses, hugs and smiles all around and then I headed off again to finish. They navigated the crazy, busy, crowded streets and subway system with a two and a four year old in order to see me in two different spots to encourage me along the way when they knew I’d need it and never once complained or thought about anything but how happy they were for me. They gave me the encouragement and the strength to finish strong and to believe in myself as much as they did.

nyc_finisher-225x225

I know that it might sound like the start of a joke to say I looked up and saw my mother-in-law’s face in the crowd, but she’s my Boo and they was such a sight for sore eyes. There she was – standing with my older son while my wife wore his brother like they were in Dagobah – he was Yoda and she was the young Jedi in training Luke Skywalker…At that exact moment there was no better sight that I could see then the four of them right there on the street! Granted, the last time I wrote about my mother-in-law it was about inappropriate movies and stuff so hopefully, this post is a little tamer…

Luke and Yoda

This is a different type of post than I usually write, but I didn’t want to miss out on the opportunity to thank them for pushing and encouraging me. They’ll never know what their smiles, cheers and laughter did for me. I think of how much my wife sacrificed over the past few months to encourage me and my crazy pipe dream while I ran like a madman training run after training run, day after day, night after night…I certainly couldn’t have gotten through it without her encouragement, support and love. Here’s to you honey – I love you!

 

 

I Hate Birds Part Three – Are Chickens Birds? If not, then I hate them too!

After we graduated from college, my wife and I went on an amazing bus tour through Europe to celebrate. There were two different tour options: A Superior Tour which went through Europe for almost two weeks and you stayed in amazing Four Star properties or the second option (the one that we chose) was almost 6 weeks long and you stayed in “economy” facilities.

We really tried not to mind since it enabled us to go away for much longer, but in some cities – my OCD was really put to the test. I will circle back and reminisce about some of the other acts of chaos that ensued at another time, but this is about another instance of fowl fouls attacking me yet again.

When we got to Rome, it was nighttime and pitch black. You couldn’t tell exactly where we were staying as the bus pulled up, but we were met with the unmistakable aroma of shit circling in the air upon arrival. As we were unloaded from the bus, we quickly found out that the place we were about to sleep at was in the middle of a combination campground/animal sanctuary. When I say that we quickly found out, it was because there were loose peacocks strutting around offering people directions and refreshments as we received our rooming assignments. I was freaked out big time and it was like being at The Bronx Zoo, but I was really trying to be a good sport and not make it miserable for my girlfriend.

This is the Welcome Ambasador?

 

As I was trying to get over the sight of the stray peacock and hoping that it wouldn’t charge at me like in one of those When Animals Attack videos, my wife told me to turn around quickly. As I turned, I came face to face with a wire fence and a GIGANTIC ostrich-like bird poking through the fence and making eyes at me literally inches from my face. It gave me a wink and then it whispered at me “the pigeons in London tipped me off that you were coming.” Of course, I freaked out and it started making these guttural, obscene noises at me: UGHHHHHH MUGHHHHHH UGHHHHH and decided that I would sleep on the bus and I was quickly told to grow up (by my girlfriend, not the emu!) I ran away like I had just stolen a television and my heart was racing.

As we were shown to our space, I froze in my tracks and started to have another panic attack. We were, literally, going to be sleeping in a wooden shed. A fucking wooden shed! It wasn’t even like it was a nicely appointed wooden shed either – it was an eight by eight bare room with a door, two single cots, and a window. I knew going into the tour that I would have to suck it up, but this was too much. I may be high-maintenance, but it was all the more shocking because the livestock actually had better appointed accommodations than we did!

That shed was hot as balls so I opened the shutters immediately upon entering and it didn’t help. I started complaining as soon as the first bead of sweat started trickling down my forehead, but my wife hung out the window to look around and said that we made out better than some of the others did. She was trying to see the bright side and noticed that our shed had trees surrounding it thinking that would offer some shade to make it cooler.

As I hung out the window (there were no screens on the windows) to look, I noticed that there were trees along the path to our shed and in those trees were chickens. Lots of chickens! Those crazy birds were hanging out as if they were in a downtown Barber Shop just chillin’ with their Homies. That was an immediate red alert for me, but it was getting late, and they refused to let me sleep on the bus so I really had no choice in the matter and solved it the only way I knew how – I got wasted and collapsed into bed.

I'm more scared of these guys than most street gangs

 

I actually came to find out later that chickens are able to lift themselves off the ground and can get over fences and up into trees, thus the peanut gallery glaring down at me from their branches. The next morning, we were scheduled to go on a walking tour at the crack of dawn, but I knew that unless I was drunk and passed out, there was no way that I was going to be able to sleep there. The ruckus from those animals moaning and doing God only knows what to each other or the stray people that wandered close to their gate was unnerving. I was huddled under my sheet like that little kid in The Sixth Sense that saw dead people. The only thing was that I didn’t have Bruce Willis to protect me. If you are ever outnumbered by chickens twenty to one, you want Bruno on your side in case it gets ugly. Yippee Ki-Yay Mother Clucker!!!   

The next morning rolled around and I was spent! We had gone to bed less than four hours earlier, we were two weeks into the tour, drank every night and most of the every day and I was just exhausted. I had been to Rome multiple times before this trip and although I LOVE Rome to pieces, I had to skip out of the walking-tour for fear that my body would just collapse if I attempted it. My girlfriend left with group to go on the tour and I slipped back into my coma.

If I can, let me try to illustrate the next series of events that unfolded: I was still partially drunk, slipping in and out of consciousness while I was recovering, and just all around minding my business. There I was trying to get over the fact that they mail coffee beans in more elaborate shipping crates than the one that I was currently sleeping in, when I remember dozing off for the last time. When I’m asleep, I don’t move at all – I’m like a dead body after rigamortis has set in. I look like a corpse with my arms crossed across my chest and I absolutely cannot sleep without my blue tempur blinders.

These blinders are so soft it's like sticking your head up a sheep's ass!!! Now that's Soft!

 

I cannot pinpoint the exact cause, but something woke me up abruptly. My face and forehead really hurt and my blinders were off my head completely and strewn across the shed on the floor, which had never happened to me before. Assuming I had been tossing and turning in my drunken slumber, I chalked it up to a hangover and got out of bed. As I grabbed my robe and headed over to the bathroom area, people were staring at me as I walked by and for a split-second I thought I might be accidentally streaking another one of the tour rest stops.

In Nice, I was heading from the showers back towards our room (coincidentally we were once again staying in a shed, but that one was a much nicer shed– it was French after all) and people were whistling, calling to me in foreign tongues and chatting up a storm. I felt like a celebrity for a second and didn’t realize until one of the tour buses actually honked at me and all the passengers were pointing down what they were seeing. I was walking around and my bathrobe was open and trailing behind me like a cape leaving the whole front of my body exposed and showing off my bits and bobs to everyone. The tie for the bathrobe was still in place knotted around my waist, but because it was made of thin red silk, it blew open as I was walking and I didn’t realize it. Needless to say I was pretty popular that night at the bar.

Although I wasn’t streaking this time, a lot of people were staring at me again and I didn’t realize why until I got into the bathroom. I looked into the mirror and almost shit my pants because my whole face was covered in red marks. My forehead, cheeks, nose and chin all had crazy scratches and I thought for sure that I was still drunk or hallucinating so I walked back to the shed to wait for my girlfriend to come back from the tour. I have OCD and my finger and toe nails never even reach the tip of my skin, so there was no way it was me scratching myself. My wife has even shorter finger nails than I do, and then I checked her toe nails just to make sure it wasn’t her. Due to the sheer amount of scratches on my face, it was baffling and then it hit like a tornado as I came back up the path to the shed and saw a chicken on the end of the branch about a foot away from the shutter window to my shed: It was a fucking chicken that scratched my face! No wonder my blinders were off my head and on the floor – I never move when I sleep and they have never come off my head before. And I am such a heavy sleeper that I didn’t even feel it as the chicken was most-likely tea bagging me in my sleep!

As my wife returned she looked at me with shock and a little twinge of disgust mixed in as if to say “what did you do now?” I am clumsy and uncoordinated and consistently hurt myself but even she couldn’t have blamed me for a chicken would have gone all Siegfried and Roy on my face while I was sleeping. Who saw that coming? The lesson I learned that day: Don’t skip the walking tour or a chicken will kick the shed out of you!

More on our European adventures at another time when I revisit our tour and explain about how my wife tried to drug our tour guide while we were in Amsterdam…

My relationship with St. Patrick’s Day: It’s nothing to shake your shillelagh at!

I am the proud owner of a festive little green speedo, but circumstances have forced me to stop using it to show off my shamrocks on March 17th. As a side note, the Metro North conductors have also stopped me from showing off my lucky charms in it. I was almost charged with assault in a crowded train car when my Irish polka combined with the speed of the train didn’t mesh well last St. Patrick’s Day. My jig went horribly off-course and I almost did polka an old lady in the eye with my shillelagh when I lost my balance. Tea bag one old lady on the train and suddenly no one is proud to be Irish anymore.

Do you have any idea how hard it is to carry tokens for the subway dressed like this?

 

In as much seriousness as I can muster, I am kidding about the above paragraph. Anyone who has seen this body in motion knows that I have rhythm and smooth moves like Justin Timberlake and will not hesitate to compete in a dance off on a train if challenged. That being said, I am serious here – I’m not going out on St. Patrick’s Day; I just can’t do it anymore.

When I was Studying Abroad in London, two of my friends from college were on the same program. While that often lends a sense of familiarity to the proceedings, it might have been too much for me. Baby M (not THE actual Baby M from the 80’s, but a close second in my mind.) was always a cool bean. She is a calming presence at all times except that one time when that hairdresser snapped some of her hair off of one side and left her with an awkwardly short sprout pointing upwards. I could describe her to you with words, but a cartoon character has her down pat, so I will just show you:

She doesn't knit, so pretend the yarn isn't there. Other than that, Gwendolyn is the spitting image of Baby M.

 

Yes my friends, she has the absolute sheer fortune to look just like the Gwendolyn character from Wallace and Grommit. I actually had to buy the keychain in the photo above when I saw it due to the uncanny likeness. As little as she appreciated that, she would get even more annoyed when I would show people in the bar and ask them if anyone in here looked like the keychain I was holding and nine out of ten people would look around and point right at her. The other person would usually run off because Baby M would see what I was doing and scream across the bar that she didn’t look like that. Her reaction always encouraged me to show more people when they asked about the yelling. I might have dropped it after a while if her mother hadn’t gotten her a stuffed version of that doll that Christmas. Far be it from me to argue with your mother (I actually love her mother – she’s a cute little peanut) but if she says you look like the doll, then you look like the doll!

The wild card was always Mary because she is insane. I’m not kidding and I didn’t change her name for two reasons: One, she is a LUNATIC and doesn’t mind people knowing it. Two, every woman of any age that I have ever met with the name of Mary has been crazy. No lie – show me a Mary that’s not crazy and I’ll show you a Mary you don’t really know. This Mary, Motown Mary, ZXO Mary, Old Lady Mary that looks like Stefano Dimera from Days of Our Lives, – they’re all nuts.

My friend Lisa from college. She would fill up on green beer before French class and all of a sudden she was fluent!

 

So, we went out for St. Patrick’s Day and as is my habit, I started talking to all of these randoms in the bar. One particular guy that we met was named Mohammed and he was apparently very wealthy. He was buying us drinks because he thought we were funny and then he actually let Mary use his cell phone to call our friends in college. She thought nothing of using his cell phone to call Upstate New York from London and what it would cost. We hung around with him and a bunch of others for a few hours and then as we were about to leave Mary came busting up, grabbed me by the shoulder and swung me around:

“Did you tell that Arab guy Mohammed that I was your girlfriend and that I would go home with him for Fifty Pounds? Why would you tell him we’re going out? Why are you trying to sell me again?”

“Mary, it’s not like I’m not going to split it with y…“

With that I didn’t even get to finish my sentence before she hauled off and punched me in the face. Literally, close fist, punched me in the face like she was Marky Mark in The Fighter. She doesn’t look it, but that bitch is strong!

Marky Mary regulating big time in London!

 

No sooner had she struck me before she switched personalities, forgot the assault and then said calmly “Come on, we’re leaving!” As I might have mentioned before, I have actually never been in a fight before and don’t count this incident as one but I always stand a little further away from her since that day. Also, this is not me being demeaning to women – this is me being a friend: friends try to sell their friends to Arab men. It’s what we do!

If I had known it would result in her giving me a pop to the chops like that, I would have held out for a hundred pounds from Mohammed. She was more offended that I said we were dating than me trying to sell her. Needless to say when she announced that we were leaving, he tried to follow us out and come too, but she gave him the stink eye real bad and he beat a hasty retreat. Probably a safer bet for him than going home with her if you ask me because that bitch was strong and left marks!

As an isolated incident, one might veer towards taking Mary’s side of the situation, but not anyone that knows her. I will go into greater detail about her at a later date and link back to here because that girl is a force to be reckoned with and should have reality cameras following her 24/7. She is mucho loco and wears her straight jacket like it’s from Prada.  

I couldn’t decide between this and another St. Patrick’s Day incident, so I split them into two different posts. Come back on Thursday and read all about how I tasted a brick wall sandwich and then mistook a family gathering as my intervention and you’ll understand why I just will not go out on St. Patrick’s Day again!

Assaulting Tom Cruise-Part 2: Great, now Rosie O’Donnell thinks I’m a scumbag

This has nothing to do with my post, but I just think this photo is hysterical

 

In case you didn’t read it here, I went to London and assaulted Tom Cruise while trying to meet Nicole Kidman, and then forged his signature to get the movie placard he just leaned on across the Atlantic Ocean intact so that I could give to Rosie O’Donnell – now what! Getting to Rosie O’Donnell with the placard and telling her my story seemed like such an easy thing in my head. Why wouldn’t she want to meet me? It actually turned into a little but of a  daunting task but I knew there had to be a way.          

Waiting for tickets the old-fashioned way wasn’t working, and time just kept going by. One day I was looking for the car keys on my aunt’s desk in the basement and saw a gift certificate for a pair of Rosie O’Donnell Show tickets from an auction that she had attended on her desk. I was at first shocked and then mad as hell and went to find that bitch to rip her wig off. I took that certificate and stormed up the steps like Joan Crawford into Christina’s closet when she saw that wire hanger. (My aunt actually wore wigs because she thought that they looked better than her real hair – and she was right  – not because she was sick or losing her hair. I could actually go on about her wigs and the drama with them like when she had the “Rachel” from Friends or when the sand fleas in Paris Island started claiming squatter’s rights in her new Raquel Welch glazed mocha “Tigress” wig or the Cher infomercial extensions that were weaved through your head using a series of fishing wire strings, but I will save that for another post…(As a side note, it’s amazing to me that more women don’t wear wigs. I say shave your head and get one in every color. Leave it on the dresser at night, and then wake up and shake the dust off, put it on your head and you’re ready to walk out the door. You could save so much time, sleep later, and you’d use less products…Think of it as going Green Extreme! I think it could really catch on…)        

She was on the phone, but I didn’t care – “You selfish fuck! You know that I need to talk to Rosie and you went and got tickets? What’s wrong with you? I can’t believe you didn’t tell me. Seriously, you don’t think that’s selfish?” She looked at me with a mix of mild annoyance and disgust and then spat back at me – “That’s your Christmas present asshole!” (If I wasn’t a mix of scitzo-madness right there, I never have been in my life and I changed my tune real quick) “Oh my God, I love you – where did you get them? I can’t believe this” I exclaimed as I now tried to hug her. Other people might have thought this an odd exchange, but in my family insanity is the norm, and really I was just so excited about going I forgot right away about thinking that she was being selfish.         

So, we got the tickets and had the date in January all set – nothing was going to stop me now! Or so I thought…         

When I got back from London, I left the placard at my father’s house which is about ninety minutes from my girlfriend’s house. On the night before the taping, we left to her house to go and get the placard at my Dad’s and in the middle of a terrible snowstorm, her car broke down. By the time we got the car towed by Triple A and then back to her mother’s house, it was almost one am. I was ready to borrow her mother’s car and get back out on the road so we could get the placard, because I had my priorities straight, but they looked at me like I just suggested that we test it out to see if you really do get pink eye from someone farting on your pillow. (Insert your favorite New Jersey Revenue Director that wears the belt of his pants so high that it could actually be confused as a dog collar here. This has already happened to him this summer when his wife farted on his pillow and he got a really bad case in both eyes!!!) Needless to say, they wouldn’t go and I couldn’t drive stick shift or I would have taken the keys and made a run for it. I wouldn’t stop complaining about it and right before I stormed off to bed I said “How am I gonna go tomorrow without the placard? What am I supposed to do,  jump up and down to get Rosie’s attention? (This is the point of the story where you would normally hear the ominous foreshadowing music in the background…)         

We ended up taking the train to NYC for the show since we could no longer drive. I complained the whole train ride and then the whole subway ride (for a real reason now, not just out of principle that I think I’m too good to ride on the filthy subway) and then the whole time while we were waiting in line to get into the theatre for the show. One might say just another day in my life with my normal routine, but I am usually a little better than that…         

Since they were bought at an auction, we had really great seats right in front next to the piano player John and I stopped complaining and quickly got hyped up again. Winona Ryder was the first guest and everyone got copies of the Girl, Interrupted book and then they went to commercial. Edie Falco came on and everyone got copies of the Soprano’s soundtrack, and then they went to commercial. Time was going by so quickly and I could just feel my opportunity slipping by me with every koosh ball she shot out at me. (For the record, I caught two and the third she shot toward me went horribly off course – one would think with all the practice she had shooting those things that she would have spot-on precision like a sniper. I didn’t realize until later why she kept shooting them my way.)         

          

They go to the next commercial and Rosie was up and out of her chair walking towards me and I could just feel the fates aligning and the stars were all in a row like this is the way it is supposed to happen. As she stopped in front of our seats and started talking, it was just her and I and we both knew it. She looked right at me (or so I thought) and said “Does anyone have anything they would like to say or have any questions?” I guess, in hindsight, I should have known that she wouldn’t be talking to me at that exact  moment; I mean how would she know that I so desperately wanted to tell her about Tom Cruise? Just as the words were just leaving her mouth it was like something out of a movie: to everyone’s (especially my girlfriend’s) surprise, I burst out of my seat like someone set me on fire  – like a roman candle exploding into the air on the Fourth of July. Most surprised of all, was the person sitting in back of me that Rosie was actually talking to and who I had jumped up in front of. I could tell that someone else got up too, but I couldn’t see who it was and didn’t dare miss my chance to talk to Rosie.        

I started screaming and talking a mile a minute about how I had assaulted Tom Cruise and screamed in his face and forged his name and smuggled the placard back by lying and tricking the airline into letting me get it onto the plane. I guess that in hindsight (there goes that hindsight thing again) I should have actually thought out what I was going to say beforehand so that it painted me in a little bit of a better light, but I just got so excited and I knew that she was going to just love me and my story and that she would probably call me a Cutie Patooty and laugh and then get Nicole to meet me and she’d end up with Tom and I’d be with Nicole and we would go on vacations together and we would most certainly be friends after this. Sadly though, that isn’t how it turned out.         

Rosie, of course, was trying to take in my incoherent ramblings and looked at me with amazement and then asked me the obvious question: “Where’s the placard?” At that moment, I felt a definite shift in my stomach and knew this wasn’t going so well and might not have been a good idea – sort of like eating McDonald’s before heading to the airport for a six hour flight. With that, I shot daggers at my girlfriend and proceeded to tell Rosie about how her car had broken down and she was so selfish for not driving me with her mother’s car to get it at one am and what was wrong with her. Once again, not painting myself in the best light. Rosie said “Send me the placard” and then tried to dismiss me and looked past me at the person still standing in back of me. “Hi there little boy, do you have something to say?” With that one short little sentence, my stomach just dropped and I felt a very bad vibe all of a sudden as I slowly turned around and gasped.         

I turned to come face to face with a sick little bald boy all of about ten years old standing up to say how he was here courtesy of the Make a Wish Foundation and that his one wish was to meet Rosie and to see her show. NO ONE WAS MORE SHOCKED THAN ME AT THAT MOMENT! People started to take what he had just said in and there were a ton of awwwwww’s, and then every set of eyes in the place started turning from his innocent smiling face towards me and shooting daggers and staring like I was an animal. I slowly tried to sit back down in my seat but it felt like everything was happening in slow motion, to say the least. I could feel the disgust directed at me and it was radiating through the air like dust and if I would have known where the exit was I might have run out the back door, but I felt like I had to explain.  I cut Rosie off as she was talking to the boy and stood back up and started explaining – first to his mother who looked like she was about to pop me right in the chops and then back to Rosie, then to my girlfriend, then to randoms in the audience and back to the little boy and then back to Rosie…”Rosie, I didn’t know…I thought you were talking to me…(as I turned back to the boy) I thought she was talking to me…I didn’t see you…(turning back to Rosie) I didn’t see him…I thought you meant me…How could I know? I thought you meant me.” Needless to say the rest of that taping wasn’t as fun-loving as the first part and I kept trying to explain to my girlfriend, who in turn was trying to pretend she wasn’t with me and just shook her head. “I didn’t know…” I just kept repeating – “I didn’t know…”            

Apparently, when Rosie kept shooting those koosh balls towards us, she was aiming for that little boy and trying to get them to him, not to me. The narcissist in me just assumed that she wanted me to have them. I never did live that day down and I really did feel terrible about that kid. but honestly, who looks behind them before they jump up and start talking? Who else would that happen to?        

Assaulting Tom Cruise-Part 1: Hit and run

Way before he was jumping on couches and eons before he was considered crazy – not creative – I met Tom Cruise. Well, met is a subjective term and I bet his security team remembers it a little differently than I do, but I’ll share with you how I remember our meeting.

I was studying abroad in London in the Spring of 1997 and Tom & Nicole Kidman were filming Eyes Wide Shut there so I just knew we were destined to meet – me and Nicole that is. You see, I had been carrying on a very elicit, top-secret romance with Nicole Kidman since the Fall of 1989. It was Dead Calm and I was anything but. I’m not one to kiss and tell, but we were hot and heavy. It was one of those timeless stories where the very sight of me would have her so overcome with passion and uncontrollable urges that she would just lunge at me right there. The only thing I needed was to get her to actually see me so that she could have that reaction and I could let her in on our secret romance.

They were having the premiere of Jerry Maguire in Leicester Square that night and I got all my friends to go. We were spread out across the crowd angling to get the best spots to see people, but I knew just where to go. I grabbed my friend Kate and we headed for the doorway. It was early, so we buddied up to these Swedish women at the front doorway and settled in for a wait until they arrived. More and more people started filling out the area and it got to be a really big crowd. The square was closed for the event and jam-packed with people.  

So you can get a clear picture of the area, the front doors of the theatre were the start of a red carpet that rolled out to the area where the cars let everyone out. On either side of the carpeting was the crowd fencing about three feet high and set up to keep the masses at bay. It looked like a big T with the doorway we were situated at being on the very bottom of the T and the cars drove up and let people out at the top of the T. We were in a good spot because everyone needed to come to us to get in and then back out to their waiting cars.

As time went by, we could spot certain friends through the crowd scattered all across the divide trying to get the best view and access. In the mean time, there was the guitarist from the New Power Generation (Prince’s old band) and there was Cube Gooding Jr (who would win a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Jerry Maguire shortly after – I’m not saying that I was responsible for him winning in any way, but I have always thought of myself as a lucky person) and then Woody Harrelson (who would go on to lose the Oscar for The People vs. Larry Flynt to Geoffrey Rush for Shine shortly after) came along. I looked over and there is my crazy friend Janet not getting an autograph from Woody, but writing down her phone number for him. This was amazing on so many levels, but mostly because Janet neither had a great smile and personality nor was she attractive at all. She was a very cool girl, but not something you’d want to hit one night in London if you were famous and had your choice of anyone…I’m just saying. 

(I know she gave him her number because later that night when she had gotten back to her apartment, her roommate’s boyfriend had just hung up the phone twice when he answered and the voice on the other end said “Hi is Janet there, this is Woody Harrelson” – He thought it was a joke! She came busting in saying that she just met Woody Harrelson and gave him her number as the phone rang again. She answered that time and he invited her and her friends to an after-party at a private club so they all got to hang out with Woody, Cuba, and the guitarist from New Power Generation all night. I on the other hand went bar to bar through the night sharing my Tom Cruise Story with everyone who would listen and even some who wouldn’t)

So as I was waiting for the sight of Nicole so we could make our love connection known to the world or just make out depending on how she felt, I saw Tom and he wasn’t with Nicole – he was with Jonathan Lipnicki, the little boy from the movie. Not one to be deterred, I threw the two Swedish ladies in front of us out of the way and then got onto the crowd fencing and started screaming for Tom to come over. As we were right by the front door to the building, the security guards started to heckle me. “He isn’t coming over, he’s already gone. Where are you from New York, screaming like that. Do you see anyone else here yelling? He’s not going to come over…” With that I stood straight up on the crowd fencing and screamed at the top of my lungs “HEY TOM…TOMMMMMMM – GET OVER HERE!!! At this point he stopped dead in his tracks (as did the crowd who all of a sudden got a little quieter and turned towards me) and started walking towards me. I quickly turned to the security guards and said “what do you think of that!” and looked over to see Kate hysterical crying at the sight of Tom Cruise literally steps away from her and I turned back to see Tom stepping up to me with a huge smile.

He put out his hand to shake mine and I don’t exactly know what came over me but instead of shaking his hand, I leaned across the crowd fencing I was standing on and grabbed his upper arm and pulled him about two feet closer right up face to face and got all up in his grill. My immediate thought was – what a great suit – nice material – but then I started screaming (literally inches from his face) “WHERE’S NICOLE – WHERE”S NICOLE – I LOOOOOOOVVVVVVE HER!!!” and everyone around us just went silent. He bust out hysterically laughing and tried to adjust his suit that I had just grabbed and then he goes “She’s filming, I love her too!” and started laughing at me. That’s when I really got out of control. I started screaming, to no one in particular, about how he was going to go home and tell her about me. (Of course, someone just grabs you and gets all up on you screaming about your wife and you don’t tell her?) I just  knew that Nicole would know about me in a matter of hours and it was just a matter of time now before she came looking for me and all sorts of crazy ramblings that make sense when you’ve had a bit much to drink as well….A reporter from Access Hollywood tried to come up and interview me but I was too hyped up and Kate was still hysterical crying at having just met him…She tried to ask us questions, but I ripped the microphone out of her hand and screamed in her face – “What’s wrong with you – Didn’t I just tell you he’s going to go home and tell Nicole about me???Nicole knows about me!!” Tom looked back at me still screaming and carrying on like one of those nine-year old Asian girls with the Hello Kitty knapsacks in the Michael Jackson videos and then he laughed and got into his car and pulled away.  

Then it hit me – I’m going to take the cardboard movie placard that he just leaned on and bring it to the Rosie O’Donnell Show – she loves Tom and she’ll get Nicole on to meet me. It’s amazing how the dynamics of a twisted mind work – because this seemed like such a reasonable plan to me. I ripped that placard off the crowd fencing and the thing was as wide and long as a dining room table, but I didn’t care. We took that placard to every bar that night as we went to celebrate meeting Tom and my eventual intro to Nicole.

I brought that to our apartment and hung it above our mantle. Anyone and everyone who was on our Study Abroad program heard about that placard and story on a daily basis. The day we were flying back home, everyone told me that they would never let me get the placard on the plane and I knew it would get ruined if I shipped it. I did the only thing a reasonable person would do in a situation like that: I forged Tom Cruise’s signature on the back of the placard and told the British Airways people that I was auctioning it off for charity in NY and it was Tom’s autograph and very valuable. The stewardesses let me put it in  back of the last row of seats on the plane home so nothing happened to it and I got it back to NY intact – now, how to get it to Rosie…Stay tuned later this week for the continuation of this story and hear about what happened when I told Rosie all about it!

I hate birds: Part One – London (long but worth it)

I have fear and loathing and more than just a mild disgust for birds. More than disgust, I actually hate all kinds of birds: cardinals, pigeons, vultures, thunderbirds, anything.  It’s not the movie that did it to me because I actually really like anything by Hitchcock, and when Darlene dressed up as Tippi Hedren on Roseanne‘s Halloween episode it was genius. Like I said, it isn’t the movie that made me hate birds – it’s the birds that have actually attacked me. Not just circling the car at the McDonald’s by the water that my mother used to take us to when we were little, but I have actually been attacked more than once by vigilante birds looking for trouble. Here is part one of my vendetta against birds…

 

When I studied abroad in London, we didn’t live in dorms on campus. We lived in apartment building across the way from Marble Arch and the Speaker’s Corner section of Hyde Park. Now, I will go into the stories about that building with the poor tenants that we terrorized, Neville the always drunk doorman, and the convenience store at the foot of the building where Crazy Mary and I forced the cashier to hang a photo of us on the register at another time or this entry will be ten pages long.

 

The building was in a great location, and from the outside looked perfect, but the place was filthy and infested with roaches the size of matchbox cars. I would get out of the shower and see my towel speeding down the hallway on the back of what looked like a small toy yorkie. Anyone that knows me, is scratching their heads right now and saying with my Extreme OCD – how the hell did I live with roaches and I hear you. Wanna know how – ALMOST DAILY ALCOHOL BLACKOUTS. It was either that or go back home…

 

There were five of us living there and the rooming situation was like this: Me and Jeff shared a room because we got along really well and he used to sleep at his girlfriend Laura’s room across town a lot so it was almost like having my own room half the time, Gregg and Brian shared a room because Brian’s girlfriend got the single room in  her apartment on the ninth floor and Chris ended up with the single in our apartment because none of us really liked him or wanted to share a room with him. Stop it right now, I know what you’re thinking and that is not a mean thing to say because in this world, we don’t have to like everybody and something was really wrong with him!

 

The only good part about the apartment was that we had a housekeeper, but the negatives far outweighed that: the stove and the oven were very ghetto and didn’t work and the washing machine only sporadically worked and there was no air conditioning; it was like the London version of Clayton Street. My other big gripe was that there were no screens on the windows. We were on the fourth floor and we were always hanging out those windows to heckle people on the street or to throw things at our friends below and having screens on those windows would have kept us restrained inside the windows. Or kept other things out…

 

As a preface to this next bit, I need to tell you that I am a very heavy sleeper. I have slept through policemen & firemen, alarms & sirens, and one time, an actual fire. I put my blinders on and I’m out! (Brookstone Tempur Blinders are amazing by the way – it is literally as if you took your head and shoved it right up a sheep’s ass – They are that comfortable!) I also don’t move when I’m asleep, so I’m a little bit like a dead body laying there with my mouth open as if rigor mortis has just set in. People have made fun of me for years, but I just cannot sleep without the blinders. In addition to the blinders, I desperately need air conditioning or an open window with a cool breeze because I am a very hot person. (Yes, I know that is what all those girls in college always used to say about me, but I am talking about temperature right now).

 

One night after a particularly drunk evening, I was wasted and needed to get some rest. I took out my contact lenses, took off my clothes, opened the window because the room was so hot, put on my blinders and passed out. My roommate Jeff was away in Paris with his girlfriend, so I didn’t have to contend with his usual snoring.

 

I awoke from my dead sleep at about 8:30 AM to my shoulder being repeatedly poked very hard. My immediate thought was that it was one of my roommate’s ready to get his ass kicked for disturbing me, but I lifted my blinders to find a pigeon on my shoulder pecking me with its beak. A fucking filthy pigeon was attacking me! I thought that I was hallucinating again and was squinting because I didn’t have my contacts in. That pigeon was all up in my grill shaking its beak and staring me in the eye as if to say “What’s up, Dude.” I started screaming like a little girl and tried to get it off me with my hand, but it freaked out and went nuts! That pigeon clenched its claws and dug into my shoulder and really scratched me up (it drew blood!) and then it really freaked out! I threw that mother fucker off me and it landed onto Jeff’s bed. As it got it’s bearings, it tried to fly away and started crashing into walls and was making the most terrible screeching imaginable.

 

I was on the floor by this time, since I had fallen out of the bed in the commotion and was trying to get out of the door and see how badly that pigeon tore up my shoulder. At the same time that I was trying to get out the room, my roommate Gregg burst in and smashed me in the head with the door. He turned on the light, saw me on the ground, the pigeon crashing from wall into wall into wall shitting everywhere and he ran out the door and shut it behind him. He almost closed my head in the door because he tried to slam it shut to lock the pigeon in.

 

I got free and ended up in a ball trying to compose myself on the hallway floor while our other two roommates came to see what was going on. I couldn’t even tell them what happened because I started to get myself worked up and freaking out that it might have shit in my mouth (because I sleep with my mouth open) and started gagging. They, of course, thought me getting attacked in my bed was the most hysterical thing ever but I was like “get that fucking thing out of here.” And of course, I was bleeding from where it got me in the shoulder.

 

Gregg went to open the door very slowly when the noise had settled down because he said it probably flew out the window, which must be how it must have gotten into the room. He looked in the room and saw the pigeon perched atop Jeff’s dresser. Apparently, the banging we heard was the pigeon knocking everything off of Jeff’s dresser. Gregg shut the door and turned back to me and said “the window is closed – how could it have gotten in here?” I thought about it and remembered that I had gotten up at about 5:30 AM and closed the window because it was raining…Oh my God, how long was it on me? It had been in the room for almost three hours with me…

 

Between the four of us, no one would go into the room to get the pigeon out. After round one with my flying friend, I was certainly not going back in there or anywhere near that thing and I would have gladly slept on the couch and left it in there. Finally, my friend Crazy Mary came over and said she would get it out. She went into the room with a loaf of bread and I thought she was going to feed it but she was throwing the slices of bread like a frisbee at the pigeons to get it to move. That pigeon just sat there staring at her with a quizzical look as if to say “what are you doing, crazy girl?” She connected with one good shot and that slice of bread whacked the pigeon right in the head. That pigeon let out such a screech and kamikaze pilot flew right at her and almost hit her in the face. It whizzed right past her and into the bathroom and she didn’t even flinch. I, on the other hand, was once again screaming like a little girl and almost shit my pants as I dove down the hallway to get out of the pigeon’s way as it zoomed past.

 

The pigeon flew out the bathroom window a little bit later on, but not before it left a ton of shit all over the bathroom in addition to the lovely gifts it had left earlier in my bedroom. Fortunately for me, the pigeon shit mostly on Jeff’s stuff and his side of the room. The unfortunate news was that when Jeff came home the next day, he didn’t find that as funny as we did.  He kept blaming me as if I invited that pigeon to come in and date rape me. I had a really big scratch on my shoulder for a long time where the pigeon attacked me and for the rest of my time in London I NEVER slept with the windows open again. To this day, I still get uneasy whenever I sleep with the windows open…