After Lauren told me I was “boring,” not once, not twice, but THREE times, I was pretty devastated. Dumping me is one thing. I’ve been dumped before and I’ll probably be dumped again. But to be called “boring” not once, not twice, but THREE times at dinner was really a bit much, even for Lauren, who now that I look back on it really is a first-class bitch. Hear that Lauren? You’re a bitch…a bitch…a BITCH!
|Lauren dumping me.|
I guess I should have seen it coming. I’m not sure why Lauren and I were even dating in the first place. Sometimes I think she misheard me when we made our first date. We met at this club in midtown and she asked me where I worked. I said “Golden Jacks,” which is this sports bar I own in Trenton. But after we broke up, my friend Jason said she probably misheard me and thought I worked at Goldman Sachs. That would make sense, because later on when I took her to see Golden Jacks she seemed horrified, like everything and everyone in the place was caked in shit or something.
So I’m boring. But it’s not like I wasn’t trying. Like on her birthday. We’d only been dating a couple of months, but I still wanted to find something really special for her present. Lauren lives in these new lofts near the Brooklyn Bridge, and one night when I went out to pick us up a carton of milk, I saw this really weird taxidermy store tucked away on a side street. In the window was this stuffed white mouse wearing a Yale sweater. I thought, wow, that’s really neat. It looked just like one of those things Steve Carell made in that movie, Dinner for Schmucks. So I went inside and asked the owner, who was also the main stuffer, if I could get another mouse like that but with a Vassar sweater instead (that’s Lauren’s Alma mater). The guy said sure, so long as I gave him a picture to work from. So I picked out a mouse that looked good. The next morning I stopped by with a picture of the Vassar logo, plus I added a few details about Lauren so that he could "personalize" my mouse.
|There were a lot of mice to choose from!|
I picked it up a week later and it was absolutely fantastic—well worth the five hundred bucks I paid. The guy not only put the mouse in a Vassar sweater, but he also added a little brunette wig that made the mouse look more like Lauren. Then he tucked a couple of books under the mouse’s arm, including one that said “Art History” (which was Lauren’s major at Vassar).
We went to some hot new Mexican-Asian fusion place in the Village that night and all through dinner I couldn’t wait to give her the present. So after dessert, she opens up the box. She looks at the mouse for a few seconds, kind of stunned I guess, and then she looks up at me and says, “Is this some kind of fuckin’ joke? Gross!” She said it so loud, in fact, that the manager came over. When he saw the mouse, he said we would have to leave because it was a health code violation to have a dead mouse in the dining room. And then I started arguing, no, it isn’t a dead mouse, it’s a stuffed mouse, and there’s a difference (most mice, at least the ones I’ve seen, don’t drop dead in a Vassar sweater with a little wig on their head!). But it didn’t matter, because Lauren was already putting on her coat and I could tell she was absolutely mortified. And then out in the alley I saw a very live rat in their dumpster, which was kind of ironic I thought.
I guess we just have different tastes, because after that disaster we continued our big birthday date by going to this gallery opening back over in Brooklyn. Lauren’s best friend was dating the artist, who was this skinny little kid who had grown a really bushy beard to compensate for the fact that he couldn’t quite grow whiskers everywhere on his face, if you know what I mean—it’s like he had these big bushy tufts of curly orange hair glued to his cheeks, but they couldn’t quit make it all the way over his lip or chin.
At any rate, his “installation,” as Lauren called it, was a bunch of department store mannequins that had these massive black dildos glued to their crotches. Really realistic ones, you know, the ones that look like veiny black penises. And each mannequin was wearing a T-Shirt that had a picture of someone from the Bush administration on it. And then, on loudspeakers all through the gallery, this old Julie London song—“It’s a Blue World”--was playing on a loop over and over again. I have to admit, I didn’t get it. And then to make matters worse, during the reception, the artist kept sneaking up behind people and yelling “Fuck!” as loud as he could, trying to make them drop their wine or hors d'oeuvres on the floor. I told Lauren that the guy really seemed like a dick, but she said it was all part of the performance and that I just didn’t understand it.
I guess not, because it was the following week when Lauren told me how boring I was and dumped me. Jack, you’re boring…boring…boring.
|Not only was I boring...I was a real mess!|
I probably stayed in bed for two weeks straight after that. I’ll admit I was really depressed. I’d order take-out every 12 hours or so, stagger to the door in my bathrobe to pay the delivery guy, and then get right back in bed. Boring!
I can’t say why I was so depressed really. I was pretty sure after the mouse and black dildo disaster that things with Lauren weren’t working out—I half-way expected she was going to dump me that night anyway. I just wasn’t ready to be called boring three times in a row before our salads even got to the table. What kind of psycho does that? At least wait until we’re done eating so we don’t have to stare at each other like jackasses for another hour.
I guess I was depressed too because, except for Lauren, I didn’t really have anything going on in my life. I guess I was a little boring. On top of that, receipts were down at Golden Jacks. Way down. So I had that on my mind as well.
One night, a couple weeks after we broke up, I dreamed we were back at the restaurant in the Village, except this time I was nude. Everyone, including Lauren, was laughing at the little Vassar mouse, which was on my lap for some reason. And then these really tall black guys came in and sat down at the bar smoking, even though that’s illegal, and I felt like I needed to get up and tell them to stop, which was weird, considering it wasn’t even my restaurant and I was already dealing with being nude and having this stupid stuffed mouse on my lap.
When I woke up I decided I needed to be less boring.
That night, after work, I was paying my Visa bill when a link took me over to this new Citi® Private Pass® card offer. It turns out I qualified for one! I guess the new numbers at Golden Jacks hadn’t caught up with me yet, because Citibank gave me a credit limit of $50,000. Here’s what the website said:
Have you wondered what it would be like to cook alongside a celebrity chef or hear your favorite music live from VIP seats? Citi® Private Pass®, an entertainment access program, offers access to thousands of events each year including presales, preferred seating and VIP experiences. Citi® credit or debit card customers can purchase tickets through www.citiprivatepass.com and some events are complimentary.
The “MORE” campaign shows the special access for Citi credit and debit card customers, by highlighting musicians, athletes, chefs and more. Each of the celebrities featured in the campaign has been or will be part of a Citi Private Pass event, including: Alicia Keys, Rickie Fowler, David Ortiz, Cal Ripken Jr., the Fresh Beat Band, Gladys Knight, Santana, Daniel Boulud and Giada De Laurentiis.
“Whether our customers want to see their kids’ joy in playing with baseball legends or seeing their favorite band, we’re offering exclusive access to experiences of a lifetime,” said Ralph Andretta, Head of Co-Brands and Loyalty at Citi Cards. “These ads show how anyone with a Citi credit or debit card can get more music, sports and dining.”
That all sounded pretty good. So I ate a bowl of Cheerios to soak up the week’s worth of Kung Pao grease in my stomach, signed the back of the card, and hit the streets on a mission to become less boring.
My first stop was Soho. For the few weeks we were dating, Lauren was always complaining about how drab my apartment was. I guess because she was an art major, she kept saying I needed to buy an actual piece of art more appropriate to my “station” and “living space” (apparently having the pennants of all the teams in the American League hung up in a circle on the living room wall didn’t count! Ha ha).
I’d always heard Soho was a great place to find classy wall art, so I started walking around looking for a gallery that might have something cool. Finally I found this place just off Broadway that had a bunch of really excellent color photos of old time celebrities—Elvis Presley, John Lennon, Humphrey Bogart. Then I turned a corner and there she was—Marilyn Monroe! She looked like she was nude, like maybe the person looking at the picture had just surprised her getting out of the bathtub or something. But she also had this really sexy look on her face like maybe, just maybe, she was happy to see you, even though you just caught her coming out of the bathtub. And, boy, I was happy to see her!
So I bought it---five thousand dollars. That seemed like a lot to me, considering it was just a blow-up of a picture that someone else took sixty years ago, but Lauren had always said the most crass thing a person could ever do is try to bargain over classy art. So what the hell, I thought, I’ve got $50,000 to burn on my Citi® Private Pass® card. Plus, I was pretty sure the Superbowl and Final Four would get Golden Jacks back in the black. A boring guy would have thought about it overnight and then probably weaseled out of the deal the next day. But I didn’t want to be boring anymore. So I went for it.
You’d think the frame came with the art, but it turns out that wasn’t the case. You might also be surprised to learn that it cost almost as much to frame my Marilyn as it did to buy it. Apparently I needed some type of acid-free backing and UV resistant glass and some other stuff I hadn’t anticipated. So that was another $3,000.
And then, to add insult to injury, it turned out the framed Marilyn picture was too big to go over my couch. Even when I jammed the top all the way up to the ceiling, you could still a little of the bottom frame peeking up over the cushions—and it didn’t look all that great. And that was really the only wall I had with any space on it. So, for now at least, it’s sitting in my exercise room leaning up against the elliptical—maybe if a get a bigger, less “boring” place, I’ll have some more room. I guess I should have measured first.
The art thing, as usual, didn’t work out so well for me. So I decided maybe I’d take a class at the community college. Lauren and me always had a hard time keeping a conversation going, I guess because she really liked weird art and I was a big sports fan, which I kind of had to be for my bar (why else would you follow the Mets! Ha ha). I looked at some of the classes in the catalog, but most of them had already started for the semester. But then I saw this one-time seminar in Italian cooking with Giada De Laurentiis. That looked pretty cool, I thought, and I could sure use the help in the kitchen.
|I got to test "the gravy."|
Giada De Laurentiis is a pretty big deal because she has a cooking show on the Food Network. So getting into that seminar wasn’t cheap. Anyway, we all met at her studio kitchen on a Saturday, and for the most part we just stood around and watched her cook stuff. I mean, she was real nice and everything, and she told us what she was doing the whole time, but since I didn’t know much about the basics of cooking, most of it was lost on me. I saw some other people taking notes and realized I was kind of an idiot for not bringing some paper and a pen.
At the end, she served us all this big lunch she had made, and I even got to taste the “gravy” (which is what Italian people call tomato sauce) while it was still simmering in the pot.
Like I said, I can’t say I learned much for my thousand bucks. But I decided cooking might be a good way to get my mind off Lauren. And if I could cook, I thought, maybe I wouldn’t seem so boring to the next girl I dated. I had this fantasy that if I could cook these big gourmet meals in my kitchen, and if I could act like I’d been doing it for years, like I was an old hand at it all, then maybe that would make me seem more interesting, like I was living this really fascinating life (especially if I served Dos Equis beer with the pasta! Ha ha.)
I remember Lauren saying that Terence Conran was a good store for kitchen stuff, so the day after my big cooking class I took a cab over there to get a few basics. I thought I was just going to need a couple of big pots and maybe a new bread knife or something, but it turns out you can’t do gourmet cooking unless you get a “matched set” and a bunch of little gadgets that do stuff I thought a good knife could do but apparently can’t. For example, did you know the French have made a special utensil for preparing just about every vegetable on earth? And if you use the wrong one, it will disrupt the proper “notes” in the final dish?
|I bought a lot of stuff here from Samantha|
I found this out the hard way. The girl who helped me at Terence Conran was kind of cute, and I thought she was flirting with me a bit. Plus, this was just a couple of weeks after Lauren had called me “boring” not once, not twice, but three goddamn times, so I probably still wasn’t really thinking straight. Me and the Conran girl, Samantha, walked around the store and she kept throwing more and more stuff in my cart. Five sauce pans, three skillets, melon ballers for Honey Dew and Watermelon—eventually there was so much stuff she just started writing out slips of paper and giving them to the stock boys to retrieve in the back.
I didn’t say anything about it because by then I had concocted this idea that I was going to prove I was over Lauren by asking Samantha out on a date. So while she’s throwing haricots verts clippers and crystal corn-dog sticks in the basket, I was trying to think of a cool and casual way to ask her out. Then it hit me! After buying all this cookware, I should make a joke about needing a “guinea pig” to come over and test my new cooking. Maybe she, Samantha, would want to come over next weekend to see how I’m doing with all this cool stuff I was buying.
|I snapped this quick pic of the guy who picked up Samantha|
For the next 15 minutes or so, I kept trying to find a way to slip my jokey invitation into the conversation. But Samantha was really good at explaining why I needed “this” and had to have “that.” Before I knew it we’re at the cash register. The stock boys had made this wall of cookery boxes all around the counter, each with "Jack" written in magic marker on the side. Well, this is it I thought, the perfect moment.
But just then, Samantha extends her hand like we’re lawyers or something and says, “It was a pleasure to meet you, Jack, and good luck with your new kitchen.” And lickity split, just like that, she whips off her little orange Terence Conran apron and disappears through the stockroom door. Out comes this tall lanky blond kid in a white turtleneck (I think his name was “Lars”) and he starts ringing me up. And I could swear he was smirking at me. Even worse, about ten minutes later, I saw this guy on a Vespa pull up on the concrete plaza outside the store. Out pops Samantha and the two of them are burning rubber down First Avenue.
So that kind of sucked. I felt so dizzy and shaky that I almost blacked out. It wasn’t until the next day, back in Trenton when the delivery truck arrived, that I found out I was now the proud owner of $12,000 worth of pots, pans, and papaya pithers. I guess I could have taken most of it back, but somehow I didn’t want to deal with anyone in the store again, especially Lars or Samantha who I envisioned were on break laughing about Jack the boring schlep who got clipped for $12,000 in just under an hour. “Pathetic hahaha…loser hahahah…creepy hahaha.”
I unpacked everything and tried to find a place for each pot as best I could, but since I don’t have much cabinet space, I had to leave some stuff in boxes stacked in the corner. I’d already unpacked this huge cast-iron 30 quart pot (Samantha said I would need it for "lobster season"), but it was too big to fit in any of my counters. So I decided I’d put it on a chair out on my balcony until I could reorganize things better. Then I ordered some more Chinese.
|Here's the mouse I found under my new pot.|
Anyway, I came home from Golden Jacks the next day all pumped up to at least boil some water for some spaghetti—you know, start the cooking bug with something easy. But I go out on the balcony and see that a leg on the patio chair has snapped and the 30 qt. pot is upside down on the concrete. No biggie, I think, I’ll just rinse it out and get started. But when I pick up the pot, guess what is underneath? A dead mouse. I know, right? I guess he must have been on the balcony when the chair broke and then he suffocated when the pot fell on him. Judging by the pile of mouse shit around his body, he’d been under there for awhile. So I kicked him off the balcony and down into the parking lot below. Then I got a broom and swept all the little mouse turds over the edge also.
Needless to say, I was a little freaked out by the mouse thing. But I dragged the 30 quarter into the kitchen to scrub out all the dead mouse vibes so I could start boiling. The problem was that my kitchen sink isn’t all that big, and I don’t have any of those fancy spray nozzles or anything, just the one faucet and some pretty low water pressure. So I kept trying to fill up the pot with enough hot water to really give it a good cleaning, but to do that, I had to hold it at this weird angle that made the pot get really heavy with water really quick. And even then I couldn’t get water all the way up to the parts that I thought probably had the most dead mouse contamination. Then I got the bright idea that I’d scrub it out in the bathtub. So I filled the tub with hot water and dish soap and started scrubbing. Anyway, an hour later I had finally "plated" (as Giada called it) my first serving of home cooked gourmet pasta. But as I sat down to eat it, I thought to myself, “I just cooked this in a pot that had a dead mouse and dead mouse turds in it…and then I washed it out in a bathtub full of hair and soap scum and other gross stuff." So I got back in bed and ordered Chinese again.
Things got pretty dark there for awhile. I was basically a zombie, and sometimes I didn’t go into Golden Jacks for a week at a time. Plus I hadn’t really made any significant payments on my Citi® Private Pass® Visa card, which was hovering at just over $20,000. They were fine with that, it seemed, as long as I promised to make the minimum each month (which was only $50 or so—and that I could do).
Because I wasn’t at work as much, I’m pretty sure my shift managers were stealing me blind. Whole bottles of Wild Turkey and Jack Daniels were going missing in inventory. Suddenly the till never came out right. And then, in February, right after the Superbowl, my Assistant Manager tells me we only cleared $2000 on Superbowl Sunday. I was counting on at least $10,000 that day because that’s what we had done in the past. But for some reason not many people showed up that day, or so Vic--my day man, told me. In retrospect, I guess I should have gone in that day.
Then one night I came home and found a message on my answering machine. It was the people from Citi® Private Pass® Visa card. This really nice guy—it might have been a recording, I don’t know—tells me that because of my excellent credit history and my “elite” standing as a member of Citi® Private Pass®, I was eligible to go backstage at a concert with Alicia Keys!
I’ll admit, I’m more of a classic rock guy, but I knew Alicia Keys was actually kind of a big deal. So I called back, and sure enough, they said I would have a backstage pass waiting for me the night of the show.
|I swear, Alicia Keys was totally checking me out.|
And despite my suspicions, they weren’t lying. The show was at the Town Hall in midtown, and I got to watch the whole thing from the wings. And then, near the end, Alicia played her big new hit, “This Girl is on Fire,” and I swear, as she was singing it, she glanced off stage and winked at me! I mean, it sure seemed like she was winking at me. I was standing with some other folks near the fire extinguisher, but I don’t think she was looking at anyone else.
Wow, I thought, Alicia Keys just winked at me. I’d heard she was married with a couple of kids, but who knows, maybe she had a thing for me. By the end of her encore, I had pretty much decided she definitely had a thing for me—she just kept smiling and glancing and winking so much. And then it hit me. A boring guy would think he had no chance with a big pop star like Alicia Keys. A boring guy would just stand there like an idiot, tell her what a great show she did, and then go home to eat some more Chinese, rub one out, and go to sleep.
But the new Jack wasn’t boring.
The official charges were “lewd conduct” and “simple battery,” but in non-police talk, they basically accused me of grabbing Alicia Keys’ boobs. I’m not a pervert. That’s not what I wanted to happen. I had planned to give her one of those really deep and significant handshakes, you know, where you shake the person’s hand but put your other hand on their shoulder, like you are sharing a really meaningful moment. But I must have tripped on a mike cable or something, because my left hand ended up right on top of her breast! She screams. Slaps me in the face. A couple of goons take me to some little room under the stage. And then the cops show up. And who are they going to believe—boring Jack from Trenton or Alicia fuckin’ Keys?
|A guy from Citibank took this shot just before I "grabbed" Alicia's boobs.|
It cost me another $20,000 to bond out—and the Citi® Private Pass® people were very nice about raising my limit to $60,000 so I wouldn’t have to wait in the county jail for a week to see the judge. But on my court date, I overslept, probably because I was still really depressed. And then later that day I ran a quick errand over to Philly, which turned out to mean, technically, that I had “crossed State lines” or some such bullshit. At any rate, I forfeited the $20,000 and the next day a “bounty hunter” showed up at my apartment and took me back to the county pen.
Sitting in jail that night, I thought to myself, well maybe this will make for a good story some day, one that won’t make me seem so boring. I fantasized for a moment that I was at dinner with Samantha, telling her about my stint in “the big house" and what it was like being in prison. Girls like bad boys, right? Tough guys? Guys with a bad attitude? But then it dawned on me I’d have to say I was in jail because I groped Alicia Keys’ boobs, and that would probably end the date right there.
After apologizing in writing to Ms. Keys and agreeing to see an addiction therapist, I ended up getting 200 hours of community service, so at least I didn’t go to a real jail. But the Citi® Private Pass® people had quit being so nice about me missing my payments each month, and I needed to raise some dough quick. So I had to sell Golden Jacks.
I guess the moral is this: if your girlfriend breaks up with you because you’re “boring,” just accept it and move on. Money might make you more interesting, but having credit isn't the same thing as having money.