Monthly Archives: July 2014

Couples massage

One time my wife and I were on vacation and she talked me into getting a couples massage. I’d never done massages before, I’ve never seen the appeal. Yeah, I guess the actual massaging part maybe feels pretty good, but there’s so much baggage that comes along with it, the laying down on that mat, having someone else rub their hands all over your body.

Beautiful couple enjoying in the back massage.

But you know how it is when you go on vacation, there are all of these activities that you don’t really want to do, and eventually someone says to you something like, “Come on Rob, it’s vacation, you have to at least try it.” And so yeah, I found myself taking my clothes off behind a curtain for this couples massage.

And the couples massage is really couples in name only. We were in the same room, yeah, but it was divided by a partition. So I guess if I shouted my wife’s name, she would have been able to hear me, to say something like, “What? What is it? What’s wrong?” So kudos to them, whoever decided to first market the couples massage. “We can get the wives to bring the husbands along, and we’ll sell it as a couples package, making double the money!”

And then laying down on that table, I know that I’m pretty self-conscious in real life, but that’s nothing compared to the anxiety I felt lying naked under a sheet in front of a total stranger. “Just relax,” she told me, to which I replied, “I am relaxed.”

Then there were all of these oils and lotions which, yeah, they were fragrant. All I could think about was that after this was over, I was going to have to put my clothes back on, and would this stuff get into the fabric? Was I going to smell every time I put on this particular pair of pants like I’d just had a massage?

And then the actual massage started. For the next hour, I felt as if I was being tickled. I was really trying not to squirm, worried that any sudden movements would disturb the sheet delicately draped over my body. It was just weird.

When I told my wife about it later in the day, she told me, “Yeah, well you’re supposed to tell them to go a little harder if you felt like it was too soft.” And how was I supposed to know that? There wasn’t any sort of massage orientation. It was just, here, here’s a towel, take your clothes off and get under the sheet.

That’s it really, that’s the whole story. I always hear people talk about their massages and how it’s money very well spent. And yeah, I’m open to the possibility that my one massage experience maybe wasn’t representative of massages as a whole. Still, I was apprehensive going in, and everything that I feared came true: an hour of me lying there, vulnerable, thinking, when is this going to be over?

These two hipsters were cool

I generally try to avoid writing or talking about hipsters. It’s overdone, sure. Everybody makes fun of hipsters. Portlandia makes fun of hipsters. But my main reason for not wanting to throw my hat into the hipster ring is because, once you start talking about hipsters, it’s kind of automatically implying that you’re judging them from a distance. Think about it, if I start commenting on the way hipsters dress or where they like to shop and eat, I’m writing from an outsider’s perspective, I’m saying without specifically saying: this is what hipsters are like, therefore I am not a hipster.


And the reason that this is important is because, although there’s no one way to define and identify a hipster, there’s definitely a flag that always guarantees to pass the hipster litmus test. If you have to say that you’re not a hipster, you’re definitely a hipster. Even if you’re trying to be clever, trying to make your observations without really making a specific point, if you’re not writing as a hipster, you’re writing as something else, which, by my previously stated rule, automatically makes you a hipster.

It’s tricky, but it’s the only reliable metric that we have, stemming from the irrefutable fact that hipsters despise being called hipsters. If you don’t believe me, try out a simple field experiment. Next time you’re at a bar, make conversation with most hipster looking people you can find. After a few back and forths, comment on their clothing, but in a really positive way, say something like, “I really like your shirt and your hat, I love the whole hipster thing you’ve got going on.” And try to make it sound genuine and warm. Watch how they recoil from you, it’s going to be an abrupt shift in both tone and substance. The conversation is going to be over in about ten seconds, watch.

Every once in a while you’ll run into a hipster who for whatever reason is just really lacking in self-awareness, and he or she might even start their own hipster conversation, about hipsters, yes, but about how they hate hipsters, how hipsters are ruining the neighborhood or something like that. I’ve actually had this experience, some guy lamenting the erosion of a neighborhood’s local flavor, whatever that means. And the whole time I’m thinking, man, this guy really doesn’t get it.

You might think an obvious solution is just to come out and say it, “hey everybody, I’m a hipster,” thus making you not a hipster. But unfortunately, the transitive property of hipsters doesn’t work in reverse. Saying that you’re a hipster doesn’t not make you a hipster, it just makes you a guy in a fedora making hipsters and non-hipsters alike really uncomfortable with your lack of social etiquette.

But like I said, this is all totally overstated by now. The only reason why I’m bringing it up at all is because, the other night at work, a hipster couple sat in my section at the restaurant. Before you think me a judgmental jerk, let me assure you, these two were as hipster as it gets: long-sleeve tattoos, she wearing a nineteen forties style haircut over her thick, pointy-framed glasses, he was decked out in all of your standard hipster accouterment, the fedora, the really well manicured giant beard. I took one look at them and thought, ugh, hipsters.

But then a short while later, I realized that I was totally being a judgmental jerk. Not only were these two super nice to me, they were by far the nicest, most pleasant customers I’d had all night. I’m not looking to make friends or anything when I’m waiting tables, but I’m just so used to snooty upper-middle class Manhattanites responding to my, “Hello, how is everything tonight?” with a curt, “Diet Coke,” or, “Sauvignon Blanc.”

No, these two said please and thank you, they were friendly, they left a good tip. The whole interaction left me puzzled. Why did these two obvious hipsters act so contrary to how I imagine hipsters to behave out in the wild? And then I thought about it, when have I ever really talked to any hipsters? I replayed a few interactions through my head and realized, no, none of those were real, they were all from movies or Internet articles or Portlandia episodes, everything making fun of hipsters in the same exact generic way that we always make fun of hipsters.

And it made me rethink everything, like who I think is cool, who I think isn’t cool. Maybe I should start giving more people the benefit of the doubt. Maybe I should stop automatically sizing someone up based on the way they act or dress.

All right, I’m getting carried away in the opposite direction. And everybody knows that if you get caught defending hipsters with a little too much gusto, that’s another dead giveaway that you’re totally a hipster. And so I’ll stop short of proclaiming that hipsters are actually pretty cool underneath their flannel shirts and thick-gauged earrings. In fact, I’ll refrain from making any proclamations of any sort, about hipsters and non-hipsters alike. I’m not saying anything, OK? I’ll only say that these two hipsters happened to be cool on this particular night.

Time-control powers

I always thought that it would be cool to have a superpower where you could freeze time around you for however long you wanted. The best part about having this power would mean that I’d never be tired every again. Not really, not to the point where I wouldn’t be able to immediately take a nap. As it is right now, it’s always a struggle to get to sleep at a reasonable hour, and then it’s equally difficult getting up in the morning like I imagine adults are supposed to do.


But with my time-stopping powers I’d just be like – snap! – time is frozen, let me enjoy another two hours of rest. And I’d get up and go about my day as if I’m running on a full tank of gas. Because I don’t know what it’s like for everybody else, but I totally need eight hours of sleep. Anything less and I feel like something died deep down inside of me, that I’m carrying a heavy weight, pulling me to the ground, “Go to sleep,” it’s constantly whispering in my ears, “Right here is fine, just close your eyes and relax.”

And the world just isn’t set up for impromptu napping. Like, every once in a while I’ll be at work in the restaurant, I’ll see the linen truck pull up, they’re dropping off giant sacks of freshly cleaned white napkins, and all I want to do is clear a space and lie down on top of those bags, a giant soft pillow that I could use to take a load off, just for fifteen minutes, I could get away with disappearing for twenty minutes.

But like I said, that’s not how it works. Your boss catches you asleep in the backroom, you just know he’s going to say something like, “Hey Rob, if you don’t have epilepsy, you’re fired.” That’s why I need those time control powers. I could do it whenever I wanted. I could sleep in the back for an hour, two hours, however long it might take for my batteries to recharge all the way.

And these powers would come in handy for so many other aspects of my life, stuff that doesn’t involve sleeping or napping. Like, every time I go to the movies, I always wind up drinking my Cherry Coke way too fast. Then I have spend the second half of the film squirming in my seat, waiting for the credits to roll so I can relieve my swollen bladder. If I could just freeze that moment, I wouldn’t have to be so uncomfortable.

Or if I’m on a game show someday, like Jeopardy for example, I’d wager everything on the Daily Double, every time. Why? Because if I don’t know an answer, I could just – pop! – make everything around me stop while I take a walk to the nearest library and check out all of the answers. (Unfortunately, I’m assuming my cell phone and the entire Internet would be frozen along with everything else, so I’d have to resort to an old-fashioned printed and bound version of Wikipedia.)

Don’t you hate it when you’re not paying attention and you miss your subway stop? You have to get off the train and walk all the way over to the other side of the tracks and wait for the next train heading in the opposite direction. It takes forever. But if I could stop time, I’d just pry open the door and walk along the tracks back to the station that I just missed. There’d be no danger of any oncoming trains, or any rats or anything like that, because they’d all be frozen.

The only thing is, all of those stolen moments have got to add up, right? An hour here, ten minutes there, all of the sudden people are going to start asking me, “Rob, how is it that, despite the fact that you always look so unbelievably well rested, you seem to get older and older every time that I see you?” I’d get so dependent on stopping time for even the most mundane of tasks that eventually I’ll have lived an entire parallel lifetime in between the minutes while everyone around me is stopped in their tracks.

So I guess, unless I could add a stipulation to my powers, that I don’t age while time is stopped, I’d have to reluctantly turn down the ability to freeze time. And it sucks because, the more I think about it, there’s no way around it. If you’re moving around and using energy and everything, your body has got to be doing its thing, converting food to fuel, shedding old cells, everything that characterizes the whole aging process. It feels like it would be a cop-out to add the no-aging clause, almost like that would be its own superpower. It’s like when people ask you to pick one superpower, you can’t say flight and invisibility. It’s one or the other.

But other than the whole shaving-years-off-of-your-life-by-taking-naps-at-work thing, it would be really cool. Because I’m thinking about it, and I don’t know, is it better to have a long life where you’re really tired, or a shorter life where you’re constantly feeling refreshed?

Listen, I was just kidding about the Brooklyn Bridge

Hey everybody, I have another confession to make: remember how yesterday I wrote about how it was me who pulled off that Brooklyn Bridge white flag stunt? Yeah, well, it wasn’t me, I was just joking. I saw it on the newspaper in the morning and I thought, well, nobody’s taking any credit, maybe I should take credit. Nobody’s going to believe me, I thought, that would be insane.


But people believed me. A couple of G-Men showed up at my house really early this morning. They weren’t happy. “You think national security is some sort of a joke?” The good cop said. I just assumed they were playing good cop, bad cop. The bad cop didn’t say anything. He just kept glaring at me, communicating behind his aviator sunglasses, seriously man, you do not want me to get all bad-cop on your ass.

They had all of these printouts of stuff from this blog, my post from yesterday, my post from a while back expressing a strong desire to climb to the top of the Queensboro Bridge. I told them, “Guys, come on, I’m really sorry, but I’ve written blog posts about waiting tables in space, about what would happen if a giant red asteroid fell to the earth, turning all of the world’s oceans into red Kool-Aid, you can’t take any of this stuff seriously.”

And they said, “Listen kid, it’s post-post-9/11. We take everything seriously.” And I saw the bad cop write something on a little notepad: “Comet, red Kool-Aid, threat?” And then we just kind of stared each other down for a while, which, was really just them staring at me while I tried to avoid their punishing glares. I’m telling you, I think that bad-cop must have had some sort of mind control powers, because I could feel my head being probed, he was making me really uncomfortable.

“No more funny business, OK?” they told me, and I said, “That’s it? I’m not in trouble or anything?” and they didn’t answer, they didn’t have to. I’m just assuming that, no, I’m not in trouble, but at the same time, yes, I’m probably in a little bit of trouble. Some non-trouble.

Like when you get pulled over for speeding and you say to the cop, “Come on,” and he really shouldn’t, but for whatever reason, who knows, maybe you remind this cop of his son, and so he lets you off, but with a written warning. And it’s an official written warning, almost identical to a speeding ticket, but with no fine or loss of points on your license.

That’s the kind of non-trouble that I’m finding myself in right now. Like I think when these guys opened the door and saw me in my pajamas they probably immediately thought to themselves, goddammit, this job was so much easier before the Internet was around, before we had to deal people running their mouths online.

And so they told me to knock it off, not to mention the bridge again. And so I wanted to apologize, (is an apology OK? I’m sure an apology is OK) to everybody that read my post yesterday, who thought I was the one who climbed all the way up there and planted those bleached flags. I’m actually pretty flattered that some people thought me capable of performing such a feat. If anything, I still maintain that I could do it if I wanted to. I’m in great shape, and I think that I could climb any bridge or building in the city without really breaking a serious sweat.

But once again, I’m sorry for tricking you guys. It’s just that, I’m a really convincing writer, so don’t get too down on yourself for believing my tall tales. It’s hard for anybody to read this stuff and not take it at face value. I mean come on, the government sent people to my house. If they believed it could be true, don’t feel bad that you believed it too.

So I guess that leaves the mystery unsolved. I wonder if my friend Ben the Bridge Climber knows anything about it. Nah, I should just stop speculating and leave the investigating to the professionals.