The Best Motto

Gd, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannon change
Courage to change the things I can
And the wisdom to know the difference.

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

You woke up this morning - Congratulations! You got another chance!

Thursday, July 19, 2007


A few weeks ago I had a random discussion with one of my friendlier co-workers. Not surprisingly (since I just returned from my vacation/time with niece and nephew), we started discussing baby-sitters. I told him that my sister was in the process of looking for one, and one of the candidates recommended to her was usually working in Manhattan, hence her asking price for $20 per hour for two kids. I jokingly remarked that that was more than I was making, to which my sister remarked that I should think of a career change; my co-worker seconded the motion after I retold him this story.

That remark started an interesting discussion of its own. I replied that I am not dying to become a babysitter, because being responsible for somebody else's kids, especially tots, is not worth any amount of money. Plus, I added, working with their parents is usually no mean feat also. Since we were talking about Manhattan prices, he assumed that I was talking about Manhattan parents (even though I meant the ones in my sister's neighbourhood actually), and so he told me the following story.

He and his wife have family friends, who, though being of middle class income, somehow managed to land themselves digs in the Upper East Side. The "matriarch" of the family (let's call her Amy) is usually being snubbed by the other mothers of her children's classmates. To compound the situation (or to make it ironic), her older daughter is absolute bosom buddies, or BFF, with the daughter of the chief snubber, so to speak.

One time Amy was babysitting her daughter's friends after school (although there was some kind of fancy name for it, something like "family sharing", basically, it was free babysitting). When the "chief snubber" came to repossess her progeny, she naturally inquired what was served for lunch. Imagine her horror at the response "Mac and cheese"!!! "All those carbs!" Now she hates the poor Amy not just for being beneath her financially, but also for introducing her daughter to peasant, full of carbs, but actually beneficial to growing children, food (which her daughter, of course, loved).

Why did I chose to re-tell this story, which my sister actually dubbed "one of the saddest" she had ever heard? You see, the cynical and the misanthropic part of me thinks that the bosom buddies situation between these two girls is an aberration due to their young age, and in a few years, once they become teenagers, the daughter of the chief snubber will become the part of the coolest crowd and will drop Amy's daughter like the proverbial hot potato. The idealist and the unbeatable romantic in me, on the other hand, says no, this is not an aberration. These two girls like each other despite the general air of bourgeois snobbery all around them. So maybe, the disgusting chain of snobbery will be broken by them. They will truly be best friends forever, support each other through all the ups and downs of their lives, and share many more bowls of macaroni and cheese.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


My native borough of Brooklyn, being not half as exiting as Manhattan, non the less can boast more strange characters running loose on its streets than the fair island itself; they are just different in their strangeness. For one thing, the northern part of Brooklyn is filled to capacity with what my sister nicknamed "Manhattan wannabes". They tried to imitate to the minute detail TriBeCa and Upper East Side combined ( and the real estate prices followed suite).

Not to be outdone, South part ( where yours truly resides) decided to follow suit, but in a slightly new direction. For one thing, where is a totally different ratio of hippies and yuppies to the general population; on the other hand, the ragtag band of the recent influx of immigrants (mostly illegal) is amply represented, my favorites being Muslims of any ilk and Russians (real ones, not Russian Jews). So, wannabes galore from all groups. There is only one problem: two cultural attributes of "in" neighbourhood are largely absent. Can you guess what they are, aside from the park? Trendy coffee shops, mainly Starbucks, and book superstores like Barnes and Noble.

To be fair to the denizens of my neighbourhood, I do not think a lot of them are pining for a book superstore. Coffee, on the other hand... In the absence of Starbie, here comes DD. The fact your you will be lucky if your "no sugar" would not be translatd into sickeningly sweet cup of weak joe does not usually deterr anyone. Every time you walk into one of them, you are guaranteed to see at least one bunch of strange (and sometimes smelly) characters discussing their business (shady or otherwise). Then, a few weeks ago, one dude pulled something totally hilarious (although at the time is was maddening, because he was right in front of me and holding up the line). That character ordered (ready for this) a caramel latte, 2/3 regular, 1/3 decaf, not too sweet, and some more specifications that I do not recall. Stupid idiot! Sure enough, about five minutes later he got something which was half regular, half decaf. He thought about it hard, left the store, came back and asked to add some more regular, because otherwise it was not strong enough; then he confounded it by asking for a very specific amount of cream! All he needed to do is not to pretend where he was, buy himself coffee (0r brew it at home), take the train, and then stop by Starbie on the way to work. This way, he was saving himself from about fifteen minutes lost in the morning rush, never mind the general disappointment. No, he wanted to pretend.

What really put me in the reminiscent mood was the following. There is a new "super luxury" condo attached ( and I mean glued to one wall) to my building. Due to the above mentioned glued wall, which successfully deprived some people of their windows, plus the amount of time the construction took, plus the prospect of the lost parking spaces, there was a certain amount of curiously attached to who eventually will occupy those condos.

Now, the contractor, being a true Brooklynite, had produced two "penthouse" suites on top of the "super luxury". That alone is hilarious: the best few from those penthouses would be the Verazzano bridge; the rest is a very panoramic view of South Brooklyn, slightly obscured by the church on the corner. So, finally, somebody bought the cheaper penthouse suite (the one attached to the above mentioned wall). Then, few weeks later, I observed something totally incredible: there was a whole bunch of laundry, including the unmentionables, drying on the line on the balcony of that penthouse! Here is something you would never see on Upper East Side!

Hurray for South Brooklyn!! Even our wannabes are one of a kind!