Friday, April 24, 2009


Question of the day: How do the editors of High Times ever make their print deadline?

Did everyone but me know that Monday, 4/20, was Marijuana Smoking Day? Apparently, because there was even an article in the Times about it. In years to come, perhaps it will be observed as Marijuana Legalization Day, but right now it’s just a day of smoking or otherwise ingesting marijuana, beginning at 4:20 P.M., and again at 5:20, 6:20, 7:20, etc. until you pass out or run out of weed.

So last Saturday I was at an undisclosed location and wondering "Where is everybody?" and I decided to say hello/goodbye to some friends, and that was when I found out where everybody was. There was a party going on in a house where the decorations were all cannabis: centerfolds from High Times (gigantic buds), a giant martini glass full of joints and lighters and rolling papers, an eight-inch spliff going around like a peace pipe, everyone wearing theme T-shirts (HIGHAGAIN instead of HEINEKEN), Grateful Dead on the stereo ... There were also baked goods, some of them spiked, including a green marijuana-leaf cake (not spiked), and a “candy bar”: a spread of chocolate-covered cherries and pistachio nuts and M&Ms and tiny peanut-butter cups—munchies paradise. How would I explain this at Weight Watchers on Monday?

Suddenly I realized, Hey, it’s not 4/20, it’s 4/18. The people at the party looked at me (from under heavy lids) like I was crazy. “4/20’s a Monday,” one of them said. “We’ll be at work.” Duh. That reminded the hostess to enjoin everyone to light up on Monday, 4/20, at 4:20, wherever we were. Where would I be on Monday? Oh, yeah—on jury duty.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Tax Time

My favorite deduction, in a year of especially imaginative deductions (should I be tempting the I.R.S. to audit me in this fashion?), is $34.95 for a rubber alarm clock. I have the receipt: it was purchased on November 11, 2008, at Muji, the Japanese designer store with a branch in the new New York Times building. I am writing it off as a home-office expense—every office needs a clock, right?—but I actually bought it with Norbert in mind.

Norbert is my alarm clock. When he wants his breakfast, he shoves things off the dresser and any other surface with loose detachable items perched on it (desk, bookcase, refrigerator, kitchen counter). But the clock is his first, best target. Those cheap plastic alarm clocks can hit the floor and spill their battery-guts only so many times before they give it up for good. I have finally learned to pull out the top dresser drawer before going to bed at night, so anything that Norbert pushes off will land safely on a pile of socks.

Sometimes I forget to give the cat-sitter instructions on how to Norbert-proof the house. The cleaning lady has yet to figure out why I keep the bedroom phone on the floor with a pillow over it. It is an antique model—a touch-tone office phone dating from the nineteen-eighties. It no longer rings, which would make it an ideal bedroom phone, if Norbert didn’t torture it.

Norbert made a Herculean effort the other week to budge a small wide-woven basket that I keep makeup and moisturizers and a few souvenir rocks in. It had been shoved deep into a corner under a shelf. I must have been in an especially heavy sleep, because I did not hear those rocks hit the floor, but that is where they were when I woke up in the morning.

When all else fails, Norbert will leap from the dresser to the top of a Chinese lacquer secretary desk, a recent acquisition that had belonged to my mother. I keep framed pictures, including one of Norbert, on the shelves behind glass doors, which rattle alarmingly when a fifteen-pound cat lands on top. He never stays up there long ... comes the moment when he hurls himself down onto the bed and I give up.

I read a great piece in the Times today about Philippe Petit, the tightrope walker, who has an office at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. He has a practice wire strung up in a building on the cathedral grounds. One of his jobs at the cathedral is to change the light bulbs in the high chandeliers. I wonder if he needs a cat.

Monday, April 6, 2009


So far this Lent, my sole religious observance has been to get out my Last Supper pillows. The cleaning lady lines them up in a row along the top of the couch, but I prefer to make different Apostle groupings. If I had thought of it, I'd have used some other fabric for the backs of these pillows, cut from a tapestry of the Last Supper. But I didn't, so now I have reversible Apostles.

In speaking with a member of the clergy the other day, I found out that those who have their feet washed by the priest on Holy Thursday always make sure their feet are clean before the service. What is the point in that? If my feet were going to be washed by a priest, I'd want to make it worth his while.

Speaking of feet, I spent Palm Sunday in Rockaway, walking barefoot on the beach. It was a clear, mild day, but the ocean was cold. Happy dogs ran along the surfline, until their unhappy owners were given tickets by a park ranger for not having them on a leash. Afterward, I went to the Wharf, where I could sit outside and have a beer and watch the sun set. It went down right in the middle of the Verrazano Bridge. Everyone sitting outside seemed to be speaking Russian.

Inside, on my way to the ladies' room, there was a guy at the bar whom I knew but couldn't quite place ... I said hello, he said how are you, and a second later I realized who it was: My mechanic! His family owns the Wharf. Little does he know that over the winter I found a new mechanic, in Manhattan, and got my motor mounts replaced.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April Fool!

I was supposed to return to the street today, but I couldn’t bring myself to give up the garage after all.

I tried. At the beginning of the month, I gave notice at the garage, verbally and in writing, and I enclosed a note with my March bill, stating my intention to remove my car from the premises at the end of the month. But it didn’t take. For one thing, I have two months to go at the special price of $169 a month (guaranteed for six months), and that really is a good deal, such a good deal that my garage landlords apparently couldn’t believe I was serious about leaving. When I called to say I’d changed my mind and would like to stay for another month (or maybe two), it was no problem, and the April bill arrived on schedule, as if I'd never broached the subject.

I was afraid of this. Now that the Eclair has had a taste of luxury, she'll never want to go back to the street.