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Goofus, No Gallant

I read somewhere that if you’re going to eat candy, you should let the wrappers pile up, because when you see how many you’ve eaten, you’ll stop.

Doesn’t work. I look at the pile and think, “Shit, I’ve gone this far. Might as well eat another five.”
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Did I mention it’s only 9:12 a.m.?

Did I mention my tummy is starting to bother me?

Did I mention I just put another wrapper on the pile? (If you are one of my children and you are reading this, “Ha ha! Just kidding! That’s all garbage I picked up off the street on my way home from walking Pie to school. I would never eat like that. Especially not first thing in the morning. So bad for you. So bad!”)

My son has been a terror these days. He had a doctor’s appointment and we were running a few minutes late. Parking was going to be a bit of a pain, and I was stopped at a traffic light across the street from where he had to be, so I said to him, “Why don’t you get out here and walk to the appointment and I’ll park and meet you.”

“Okay,” he said, hopping out of the car. And then he completely bypassed the traffic light, walked up one the absolute busiest streets in our town, and proceeded to cross in the middle of the street, around the cars. I’m trying to yell at him from the car, “Doodles! You moron! Cross at the light. CROSS AT THE LIGHT!”

By the time I park and catch up with him, I’m furious. “What the hell! That was a complete lack of judgment! How can I trust you to walk yourself places when you do it like an f’ing idiot! Seriously! What were you thinking?”

“Sorry, sorry!” he said. “I didn’t know you wanted me to cross at the light!”

“How could you NOT know that? You are eleven years old and you don’t know how to cross a street? How do you have such a complete lack of judgment! Complete! How do you not know this! COMPLETE LACK OF JUDGMENT!”

Luckily, it was his turn to go in, so my tirade ended, though I silently cursed him throughout. And on the way out, still feeling really snippy, I walked him down to the corner and demonstrated how one crosses at the light. I looked at my kid, shivering in his t-shirt, and I said, “Put on your jacket.”

“I don’t have a jacket with me,” he said.

“It’s October. In the Northeast. Why the hell do you not have a jacket?”

The little twit looked at me and shrugged. “I dunno,” he said. “Complete lack of judgment?”

I. Wanted. To. Smack. Him.

Surprisingly, he has continued to live and thrive.

(Those of you not on Facebook–my dad!–don’t have the benefit of hearing conversations like this between my son and myself, but it pretty much wraps up where we stand these days:
Me: How is it you made it to 11 and you’re still alive?
Boy: Survival of the fittest.
Me: Boy, if there were ever an argument against natural selection, you’re it.
Boy: The sad thing is that I was Dad’s strongest sperm.)

Meanwhile he’s signed up for a hacking contest, and all he wants to do his hack. (And now I’m singing that in my head to the tune of Don Henley’s “All She Wants to Do Is Dance.”) Homework? If he can fit it in. Viola practice? Not so much. Sleep? Who needs sleep? There’s hacking to be done! My boy is clamoring to be a geeking cliche.

By the way, I solved the candy problem. I threw out the wrappers. Now to keep my girl from going through the garbage looking for them (I swear, she does it, always trying to catch me chocolate-handed!).

Milky Way, anyone? I can be forgiven, though. It’s fortification for the yelling I’ll need to do later when I discover the latest stupid thing that boy has done. Maybe I should have two.

Columbus Is Not a Hero

In “honor” of Columbus Day, I am posting an essay the boy wrote last year, in his 5th grade class.

Columbus Is Not a Hero
An Essay By Doodles

from biography.com

from biography.com

Christopher Columbus killed many innocent Native Americans and we celebrate him as a hero… Does something sound wrong about that sentence? Why do we celebrate somebody who killed so many innocent people? Has humankind finally met its demise!? This is a essay about why Christopher Columbus is NOT a hero. I am going to give you a couple reasons why.

First, some background info. Columbus came to the Americas to do two things: Get rich (find gold) and claim land for Spain. In the year 1492 he landed on the island of Hispaniola (now called Haiti). There, he met the native people, called the Táinos. Now why is Columbus not a hero? Here’s why:

One reason Christopher Columbus is not a hero is that he completely wiped out the Táino people. Today, because of Columbus, there are no pure blood Táino people left in the world. Before Columbus came to the Americas, some people estimated that there were about 1,000,000 native Táinos, now there are 0. Big fat ZERO. Why? Because of Columbus’ lasting effects, there are no pure-blood Táinos left in the world.

Another reason Columbus is not a hero is that he demanded gold from the natives when their land had little gold. In his journal Columbus wrote: “There was land at the south as well as at the southwest and northwest and those from the northwest came many times and fought with them and proceeded on to the southwest in search of gold and precious stones.” It says right there that Columbus, “fought with them … search of gold and precious stones.”

Basically, Columbus is even telling us straight out that he fought the natives to get gold! The Táino tried to explain to Columbus that there was little gold in the land, but he would not listen. If they brought him no gold he would cut their hands off. How can we paint a picture of a hero from that? And, he has his own holiday (Columbus day in October to commemorate Columbus landing in the New World)! The land had very little gold but he was greedy. So he enslaved the Táinos and made them give him gold. They had to melt down all their gold jewelry and items to give to Columbus. When those ran out they had to scavenge the land for gold. This is part of how Columbus killed off all the Táino people.

And the most important reason Columbus is not a hero is that Columbus started the European Slave Trade by taking a bunch of Táino men and bringing them to Europe. Once they got there he sold them as a form of slave labor. Anyone who is a slave trader is evil! The slave trade that Columbus started lasted for over 400 years! In his own journal Columbus wrote: “As soon as I arrived in the Indies, on the first Island which I found, I took some of the natives by force in order that they might learn and might give me information of whatever there is in these parts.” He took some of the natives by force in order to learn… isn’t that the definition of a slave? Taking them by force and basically making them be Columbus’ guide? This slave trade included people from Africa as well and North America. So that means Columbus’ evil lasted for more than a hundred years after he died.

Finally, Columbus is not a hero because he bartered with the Táinos unfairly. In Columbus’ journal he wrote: “The natives are an inoffensive people, and so desirous to possess any thing they saw with us, that they kept swimming off to the ships with whatever they could find, and readily bartered for any article we saw fit to give them in return, even such as broken platters and fragments of glass. I saw in this manner sixteen balls of cotton thread which weighed above twenty-five pounds, given for three Portuguese ceutis.” They gave Columbus and his crew things that are valuable to The Táinos and Columbus gave them back trash! I mean, broken platters and fragments of glass! That hardly sounds fair!

Because of these reasons, I don’t like Christopher Columbus, but what really ticks me off is that we have an entire holiday devoted to him! I mean, sure, he discovered the Americas, but he killed thousands of Native Americans in the process. So, next Columbus Day ask yourself: “Who are we really commemorating here? A hero who found the Americas or a no-good dirty killer who wiped out an entire race of people?”

If we think of Columbus as a hero we are tragically wrong. In my opinion Christopher Columbus is not a hero because he wiped out an entire race of people, he demanded gold when the Táinos were unable to give gold to him, he killed them all when they rightfully rebelled against him, and he started the European Slave Trade. In conclusion, I think that Christopher Columbus is not a hero.

Find out more about Columbus! Here are some websites that I used:
Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Columbus
History Channel: http://www.history.com/topics/exploration/christopher-columbus
Enchanted Learning: http://www.enchantedlearning.com/explorers/page/c/columbus.shtml
Fordham University (Most of the things from Columbus’ journal): http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/columbus1.asp

Football Loyalty

Lest you think my son is the only one who amuses us, note this conversation I recently had with my nine-year-old daughter.

I happened to be at her class’s library time at the elementary school. The kids are into polls these days. As in “Who/what do you like better? X or Y?” A boy came up to the table where the girl was sitting, and posed this poll question: “Tom Brady or Peyton Manning?”

The girl froze, looking toward me, knowing there was a right answer, but unsure of what it would be. To give you a hint of that right answer, this was the girl and myself during the first week of football this season:
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Girl: Uh…

Me: Seriously? Seriously?

Girl: Uh…

I turn to boy: I’m answering for her! She picks Peyton Manning!

Boy writes it down and wanders off.

Me: How could you even consider Tom Brady? Seriously?

Girl: But I wasn’t sure who Peyton Manning is.

Me: It doesn’t matter! You pick whoever is not Tom Brady!

Later, in the car, I go over this with her again, to make sure she understands.

Me: We don’t like Tom Brady. When you are asked, “Anybody or Tom Brady,” you ALWAYS pick “anybody”!

Girl: Always?

Me: Yes! Let’s practice. Hey, Pie, Tom Brady versus anybody.

Girl: Anybody.

Me: Right!

Girl: What if the other person is also a Patriots player?

Me: Hmm. Yes, well… Well, then you still pick that other person. “Tom Brady versus anybody”? Pick anybody!

Girl: Okay.

Me: Well, if it’s Tom Brady versus Hitler, yes, you pick Tom Brady, but anything else, it’s anybody!

Girl: Okay. Um, Hitler?

Me: Remember, he was the leader of Germany in World War II? Hated the Jews?

Girl: Oh yeah, right. Wait! Hitler played football?

And that’s life with a 4th grader. Also fun fun.

The Post in Which I Go Just a Little Too Far

Before we begin, let me say this is a TMI post. If you don’t want to know that much about us, then just mosey along.

Still here? Okay.

I’m hesitant to write half of the conversations in this house, because while I find my children amusing 1) I’m not sure others will and 2) the kids are getting to be just old enough to complain about my writing about them.

But then I thought, do I really care what anyone else–including my own children–think? So I will continue to share until DSS (which is actually called DFC in Massachusetts) tells me to stop. Please assure me that everyone has conversations like this with their eleven-year-old sons.

A few weeks ago, a friend came to stay with us with his girlfriend. My friend–let’s call him Fishy because, well, it’s his name, more or less and I have no qualms about writing about him–was here for two nights with his woman friend, whom we shall call Lady Fish.

Before they came, the boy asked at dinner one night: Will Fish and Lady Fish be in the guest room?

Me: Yes.

Boy: Together?

Me: Of course.

Boy: Ugh!

Me: Why?

Boy: That means there’s a chance–like a 50 percent chance–that there will be coitus in this house!

Me: Excuse me?

Boy: If they’re dating, they could have SEX in our house!

Me: And this is a problem because…

Boy: Ew!

Me: Are you saying there isn’t sex in this house otherwise?

Boy: No, of course there isn’t.

Me: What about me and your father?

[Note, said father and little sister are both listening fascinated]

Boy: You don’t have sex.

Me: We don’t?

Boy: Well, you did. Twice. But you don’t have sex anymore.

Me: What makes you say that?

Boy: Because I saw Dad’s drawer and there aren’t any condoms in it.

Girl: But when she was reading It’s Perfectly Normal to me, she showed me a condom, so they do have some!

Boy: Did she open it to show you?

Girl: Yes.

Boy: Ha! Then that condom can’t be used any more.

Me: You know there are other forms of birth control besides condoms.

Boy looks momentarily befuddled.

Girl: There are?

Me: Sure. Lots of kinds.

And, yes, dear reader, I’m embarrassed to say I told the kids exactly what kind of birth control we use, but I’m bashful enough (despite that this blog seems to want to prove otherwise) not to broadcast that here.

Both children consider other forms of birth control. Finally:

Boy: Well, you still don’t have sex, because I stay up pretty late, and I definitely would have heard you having sex.

Flash forward a couple of weeks, and I’m at the Lena Dunham reading of Not That Kind of Girl with a good friend. Lena Dunham has teamed up with Planned Parenthood for the tour, so in the lobby they were giving away goody bags. With condoms in them. I, of course, texted my boy right away: “They’re giving out condoms at my reading. So now there will be some in the house again. FYI.”

No response from the boy.

But the next morning, I went to wake him up and I brought him a little goody bag of his own.

Me: Wake up, sweetie. Time to get ready for school! Oh, and by the way, I brought you a condom.

Boy, with one eye barely cracked open, not missing a beat: I’d have rather you brought me a pastry.

And that, my friends, is what life is like with a middle schooler these days. Fun, fun.

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Self-Reliance the Hard (or, Rather, Nonexistent) Way

Yesterday morning, Pie comes bounding into the bedroom as I’m getting up.

Pie: Do we have blueberries?

Me: Why, yes, I believe we got pack from Boston Organics last week.

Pie: May I make blueberry muffins?

Me: That sounds like a great idea. Go flip through one of your kid cookbooks and find a recipe. Also check my whole grains cookbook.

A few minutes later she comes back.

Pie: Your whole grains cookbook didn’t have one, but my kid’s cookbook does. Can I make it?

I look at the recipe.

Me: It’s got a lot of butter but, well, sure. Go for it!

About 15 minutes later, we’re in the kitchen. I look at the recipe.

Me: Okay the first thing you need to do is get the butter from the fridge and melt it on the stove.

Pie: Can you do that?

Me: No, you’re the baker.

Pie: But I’m only nine. I can’t use the oven or stove.

Me: You are already nine, which is a fine time to learn properly and safely to use the oven and stove.

Pie: I think nine is too young.

Me: Do you know that when I was nine, if wanted cookies, they only way I could get them would be if I baked them? I followed the recipe on the back of the Nestle’s package and made Tollhouse Cookies.

Adam: And it always comes back to your poor, difficult childhood.

Me: You [to Adam], shut up. You [to Pie], get the butter.

Pie: You do it! I’m not going to use the oven or the stove! Can’t you do it for me?

Me: No. I don’t even like blueberry muffins. I’m not making them. If you want blueberry muffins, you will learn to use the oven and stove. I will be by your side helping you, but you will do it.

Pie: BUT IF I USE THE OVEN I WILL BURN MYSELF AND DIE!!!

Needless to say (though I’ll do so anyway), there were no blueberry muffins yesterday.

Interview with a 9 Year Old

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Me: What was last Monday?

9 year old: My birthday.

Me: If your birthday was on Monday, why am I interviewing you on Friday?

9 year old: Because on my birthday we were full–we were busy–and so we didn’t have time and we never got to do it because we had to do other stuff at home so we’re doing it today.

Me: What other stuff did we have to do?

9 year old: I had a birthday party and we had to unpack.

Me: What was your party like?

9 year old: It was a Hawaiian Splash Slumber Party. Meaning it was a Hawaiian party and the splash part was we played in water.

Me: Was it good?

9 year old: Yeah.

Me: How does it feel to be a nine year old?

9 year old: Good. Awesome. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.

Me: How did you spend your birthday?

IMG_75639 year old: [In New York] We went to breakfast at the Cookshop and we went to the High Line and we went to Union Square playground. Then we went to the Converse store, and then went to this bakery but we didn’t get anything there [we were checking out the Cronut bakery, but the Cronuts were long gone and nothing else looked interesting to her] and then we got this watermelon water, which was really yummy, and then we went to the Chobani store [for a snack]. And then we went to the Children’s Museum of the Arts [where she drew, collaged, and made a clay birthday pig]. And then after that we went shopping with my aunt and her, um, boyfriend [the Tweedle Twins]. Then we went back to the apartment for presents and cake. And then we went out for dinner to Le Zie and Peter made these online invitations and it was really funny [otherwise known as calendar invites, which are amazing to a 9 year old). And then me and my aunt and my mom went to see Mamma Mia on Broadway. Then we went to Toys R Us but they were closing because it was almost 11 o’clock so we went back to the apartment and went back to sleep.

Me: Why do you keep saying “awnt”? It’s pronounced “ant.” Are you a Brown or a Medros? Only those fussy Medroses say “awnt.”

9 year old: I’m a Brown-Medros.

Me: Was it a good birthday?

9 year old: Yes!

Me: What do you like to do these days?

9 year old: I like dance and I like soccer and I like Girl Scouts and I like to play the bass and I like Hebrew school and I do Smart Start [a before-school PE program] and I’m going to do Fit Girls [a running program for 4th and 5th grade girls]. I also like hanging out with family and friends.

Me: How did you end up so different from your brother?

9 year old: I don’t know because he’s just like, “Hmm, I just want to play on the computer,” and once the computer was invented, he was like “Adios, everybody,” and I was never like “Adios, everybody.” Differences are okay.

Me: What are your favorite books?

9 year old: I really like the Lunch Lady books. I like Wendy Mass.

Me: What are you listening to?

9 year old: Mamma Mia soundtrack. ABBA, actually. Selena Gomez. Who else? Mack Z.

Me: What are your favorite things to watch?

9 year old: Mamma Mia. Liv and Maddie. Kickin’ It. I Didn’t Do It. The 7D, which my brother taught me to like.

Me: What do you want to be when you grow up?

9 year old: A writer or a teacher or maybe a scientist that studies plants.

Me: What are you looking forward to in 4th grade?

photo9 year old: Switching classes. And having my teacher [she got the teacher she wanted]. And dance parties [4th grade has Friday afternoon dance parties].

Me: What are your goals as an 9 year old?

9 year old: Be more awesomer [sic] than ever.

Me: Any grand pronouncements?

9 year old: What’s that mean?

Me: Really? Again? Any grand statements? Any big thoughts? Here, look it up: “a formal declaration of opinion” or “an authoritative announcement.”

9 year old: Don’t eat bunnies! Bunnies aren’t food!

Me: Really? What does that even mean?

9 year old: Some stores have started selling bunny meat!

Me: What stores?

9 year old: I don’t know.

Me: You want to end on that note? What’s the last thing you want to say.

9 year old: Bye?

Ah, my 9 year old. May it be an “awesomer” year for you.

The Squeals Heard Round the World

Things in this house that were either misguided, misconstrued, or just plain old wrong (or, in other words, the reason my life of clean living has come to an abrupt end and why I hid in my bedroom until Teen Beach Movie was over and I had to force five tweens to brush their teeth and go to sleep):

  • I think the boy can handle a phone. He gets so much computer time, I don’t think controlling himself with a phone will be challenging
  • From Adam upon our return from New York: “There’s laundry in the washer and the dryer. If you want, you can take the stuff out of the dryer and move in the stuff from the washer.” [He didn't appear pleased when I responded, "No, thanks. I don't want."]
  • Having a sleepover the night after we get back from New York won’t be a big deal. How tired could Pie be after just one late night at the theater?
  • Pizza? Who needs pizza at the party? We’ll make our own sushi!
  • Making sushi should be a cinch. I mean, I’ve eaten enough rolls. How hard could it be to make our own?
  • Only five girls will make the party manageable.
  • A cat is dying in the family room. No other possible explanation from the stream of squeals emerging from there.
  • Pie has her first soccer practice the evening after her sleepover, two nights after getting back from New York. I’m sure she’ll be fine. So, her cleats are a little small. She’ll be so excited about soccer that I’m sure she won’t whine about that.
  • Teen Beach Movie looks totally harmless. Nothing in there could possibly scare Pie.
  • At least they’ll all sleep well tonight. They must have completely exhausted themselves.
  • I’m sure I can stay up later than a bunch of tweens. How late could they possibly stay up?
  • Hungry kids vs. coffee. I guess I better get them fed before I make the coffee.

Clean living? Try brownies for dinner (the girls ate the sushi, but damn, was it terrible!) and tonight, when the house is mine and soccer is done, Adam is making me a bourbon drink the size of my head. That is, if I don’t fall asleep first.

Too Tired

Birthday girl is too tired for her interview tonight. It’ll have to wait till morning….

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Interview with an 11 Year Old

Me: What’s today?IMG_7310.JPG

11 year old: My birthday. August 23, 2014.

Me: How do you know it’s your birthday?

11 year old: Well I know that yesterday was August 22 and tomorrow is August 24, and according to my parents I was born on August 23, and because we are in between August 22 and August 24, it must be my birthday.

Me: How does it feel to be an eleven year old?

11 year old: Exactly as it was to be 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1.

Me: How did you spend your birthday?

11 year old: I went to this museum thingy [Sony Wonder Technology Lab] and I watched Guardians of the Galaxy. IMG_7171.JPG

Me: Did you like the movie?

11 year old: It was like a modern Star Wars.

Me: Is that good?

11 year old: Yeah!

Me: Do you think Star Wars aficionados might take offense at that?

11 year old: Why? It’s a great movie!

Me: Was it a good birthday?

11 year old: Yeah! I got a phone!

Me: What do you like to do these days?

11 year old: Computer programming. Learn Japanese.

Me: Can you be more specific on the computer programming?

11 year old: I like to program games in Unity3d. [Note: 11 year old fixed the spelling of Unity3d. Silly me, following the rules of punctuation.]

Me: What are your favorite books?

11 year old: Probably Lord of the Rings, Sparkers, Bakuman [manga].

Me: What are you listening to?

11 year old: Some K-Pop, bit of Hip Hop, bit of electro and dubstep. Martin Garrix, BIGBANG, Skrillex, Macklemore.

Me: What are your favorite things to watch?

11 year old: Big Bang Theory, Silicon Valley, Mad Magazine, Simpsons. IMG_7184.JPG

Me: Isn’t Silicon Valley inappropriate for your age?

11 year old: Yeah. Very.

Me: So why do you watch it?

11 year old: Because it’s funny.

Me: What kind of irresponsible person lets you watch it?

11 year old: My mom.

Me: Sounds like an irresponsible kind of mother.

11 year old: That’s you. You’re talking about yourself.

Me: Hmmm. What do you want to be when you grow up?

11 year old: Computer programer. Game programer.

Me: What are you looking forward to in 6th grade?

11 year old: No freakin’ idea.

Me: What do you think is going to be different this year?

11 year old: I’m going to a new school. I’m going to have to walk longer. That’s pretty much it.

Me: You’re going to middle school and the only difference is you’ll walk longer?

11 year old: I’ll walk longer. I’ll have my own locker with a lock. I’ll have a homeroom and separate classes.

Me: What are your goals as an 11 year old?

11 year old: To get to 12 year old.

Me: Any grand pronouncements?

11 year old: I’m awesome.

Me: What does “pronouncement” mean?

11 year old: Isn’t it like something like saying a big message. Right? Right?

Close enough. Happy birthday eleventh, Doodles!

[This blog post has been approved by Doodles.]

Clean Living the Hard Way

The kids come home this Sunday. Which means time is running out for my husband. Every night we have this conversation:

Him: What do you want for dinner? I can pick something up.
Me: Mega Stuf Oreos.
Him: Indian?
Me: Mega Stuf Oreos.
Him: We could do Thai.
Me: I want Mega Stuf Oreos. I will settle for Double Stuf if you can’t find Mega Stuf [and yes, "Stuf" has just one "f"].
Him: Maybe I’ll just make us pasta.

Why does he even ask me?

IMG_6877And of course, as those of you know me on Facebook, know that Adam and I had a weekend in New York. And while IMG_6911I can assure you that all of Adam’s posts about how inebriated I was were definitely exaggerated (almost), we had a lovely time. We had a fabulous lunch at Eleven Madison Park, spent time with the Tweedle Twins, rode bikes on Governors Island, saw the Degenerate Art show at Neue Gallerie, drank with friends, drank more with friends, drank a smidgen more with friends, and then I was forbidden from having a 2 a.m. “free conversation” in the middle of Cooper Square*, was appeased with pierogies from Veselka, and then felt a wee bit ill the next day.

As a result of my maybe overdoing it on Saturday, I declared this a week of “clean living.” Which Adam has been throwing back in my face. From yesterday:

Him: I can pick you up dinner or make you something.
Me: Mega Stuf Oreos?
Him: Clean living.
Me: Mega Stuf Oreos and a bar of soap?

I cannot believe I haven’t yet gotten my Oreos. I’ve gone since Saturday night (well, technically Sunday morning) with no booze, no sugar, and no coffee (I haven’t given up caffeine; I’ve just switched to tea because I have less of a tendency to overdo tea like I do coffee). And you know what? I don’t feel one iota better.

Bring on the damn Oreos.

*And just so you don’t think that this was some oppressive move by my husband, forbidding me to speak my mind, it was actually the work of my (free speech-teaching, political science professor, baby) sister.

We passed by and I said, “Oh, look, a conversation on comfy sofas in the street!” and the Tweedle Twirp said, “Oh no!” and I said, “Oh yes!” and the Free Convo person said to my sister, “She can join us!” and the Tweedle Twirp said, “No, she cannot!” and she led me away by the arm.

pink booby roomThe next day, I texted her to ask if I had hallucinated the whole thing (as well as the “booby room” in the bar–I asked, “Did we sit in a pink booby room?” and she said, “Actually the boobies were white, the walls were pink.”), but she assured me the conversation on couches in Cooper Square at 2 a.m. were most definitely real. I said, “I cannot believe I missed out on a free convo! Do you have any idea how much I have to say?”

She replied, “Yes, actually I do have some idea.”

As if! Tip of the iceberg, people, tip of the iceberg.