Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Boring Diner

I recently moved to a complex that used to be only for “the aged”. As a result, I’m considered a “young” inhabitant. Sometimes this works to my advantage (I am the youngest person at the community gym and thus eye candy for the 80 plus!). But mostly it just exacerbates my feeling that I’m getting old, especially when these seniors are more hip and happening than me!

Take New Year’s Eve for example. Wanting a “quiet” night, I went with several people to the local Chinese restaurant, predominantly frequented by the oldies who live in my complex. By 9 PM I was beginning to yawn and couldn’t wait to get home, when suddenly a group of 20 octogenarians waltzed in rambunctiously, their rowdy chatter filling the space. The portly barrel-bodied women donned sparkly shirts bedazzled with sequins and the men wore sports coats over black turtlenecks (one even sported a ponytail). They were happy and animated; disturbing thoughts of they might be getting "lucky" filled my head.They were just starting their night . . . and I was done.

And now on top of it I have been called out twice by the waiter at the aforementioned Chinese restaurant for being a boring diner. Tall, wiry, and bespectacled, this particular waiter took my order a few weeks ago with no complaint. A few weeks later, however, when I went again, the waiter laughed nervously as he approached me and my dinner companion. “You again,” he said, chuckling.

We placed our order, and suddenly his friendly face scrunched up in disgust. For a moment he looked lost in thought. Finally he said, “Same as last time? Really?” Me and my companion exchanged looks. Of the dozens of orders he takes per day, how could he possibly remember what we ordered a few weeks back?

We smiled and nodded. “You don’t want something different?” he pushed. Nope . . . we’re boring. He shook his head, laughing as he walked away.

Last night, we went back. It had been several weeks. The same friendly man attended to us. As soon as he saw us he started cracking up (still not sure what is so amusing aside from our obvious boringness!). But this time I had come prepared . . . I was going out on a limb. Instead of the spicy tuna roll and asparagus roll (without sesame seeds, to avoid my faux allergy), I was going to order a vegetarian roll (with avocado, sweet potato, and Japanese pickle). Instead of the Shanghai soup dumplings, I was going to try a steamed vegetable dumpling. This is called “Living On The Edge” people!

But before I could go cahhhrazy and change things up, he whipped out his pad and said “OK, boring customer. So, same thing, right? Boring diners? Hmmm? Soup balls? Edamame? Haha. Spicy tuna and asparagus roll, no sesame? Red wine? Right? Same as usual. HAHAHA. Same. As. Usual.”*

What happened to the crazy, spontaneous, fly by the seat of the pants girl I was for most of my life? The girl nicknamed “Crazy Amy” or “Amiac” by friends? The world traveller who had eaten cuisine in a dozen different countries? Apparently she got left back in my 20s. I can’t even keep up with the old farts I live amongst and apparently to boot I am now the laughing stock of the Chinese restaurant.

As I left, all of the waiters turned their heads to the side, nodding and smiling. I could hear them thinking “Lame. Boring. Diner.” But I will show them. REST ASSURED readers. Next week, when chuckles comes over with his pad, I will say “up up up, I’m gonna change it UP!” Instead of a STEAMED dumpling, I will go for FRIED dumpling. Maybe a little white wine instead of red? How about instead of a spicy tuna roll, a spicy yellowtail roll.** You see where I am going with this?

*Somewhat (very much) exaggerated for effect.
**Readers, feel free to chime in on dining selections I should be making.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Just Stay Home

Ok, Ok. I’ve always been somewhat of a hypochondriac, but things are really getting out of control. And as usual, I’m going to blame it on my least favorite of all people: commuters.

My hypochondria started in grade school with things like wanting a broken leg so I could have crutches and get people to sign my cast or wanting the extra platform on my shoe like the boy on Little House on the Prairie who had one leg shorter than the other. I can only posit that these things had to do with wanting extra attention rather than a fear of illness.

Later, in college, there was four-year lapse in my neuroses, when nothing fazed me and I most definitely did NOT worry about germs, illness, adverse drug reactions, being one step away from needing a stomach pump, or all of those things combined. (Only kidding, I would never succumb to such debauchery. Or would I?) If only I could still be THAT person. My roommates used to yell at me for not washing my hands enough and I teased my BFF relentlessly for once wearing a surgical mask while flying to avoid germs.

The real, crippling hypochondria returned in my mid-20s. I would worry ad nauseam about fatal diseases and believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was about to die from one. But even then I only worried about the real scary ones (cancer, AIDS, brain tumor, mad cow’s disease, African sleeping sickness...). Who doesn’t?

Unfortunately,  I now worry about even the fartin common cold. A slight pain in my head, probably due to dry scalp, becomes a warning sign for shingles. A sore throat is definitely throat cancer brought on by too much wine. Dizziness is not dehydration or the need to eat, but a brain tumor about to spring forth through my right eye. And heart burn is most certainly a heart attack.

And now we have to worry about the flu, which, if you listen to the media, is descending upon us this season like a plague on ALL of our houses. If you listen to the news, we are one step away from Gwyneth Paltrowesque seizure-inducing death a la Contagion. And if you're like me, scared of all medications and the flu shot (not for the needle, mind you, but for the 0.000001% chance I will have an allergic reaction to it), then you are playing Russian Roulette every time you step on the Metro North or the New York City subway. Despite the fact that I have had the flu many times and survived, my mind is now conjuring images of my funeral with family members shaking their heads and saying “if she only got the flu shot, she’d still be with us.”

So who do I blame? Commuters, of course. And their damned “presenteesim” (annoying jargon for the selfish, inconsiderate act of not staying home when one is brimming with illness and spewing their germs all over, getting everyone else sick in the process). Every morning on the train I cringe at the chorus of nonstop coughs that sound like a death rattle. I feel like I am riding the train with a bunch of mogwais who ate after midnight and are now in the process of turning into gremlins. Gremlins who blow their snot all over the place and cough up productive sputum, all while not covering their mouths and wiping their own spittle on their seat to infect the next innocent person to sit down.

Since I can’t just lock myself in my home until April, I have employed the following:

• Manic hand hygiene (my roommates would be proud that this act has gone from once a day [when showering] to multiple times, especially after riding public transport). I now see how OCD develops.

• Social isolation: hard in a city of 8 million, but I now walk to and from the train instead of riding the subway and avoid people at all costs, especially those who are sick.

• Vitamins: to boost my immune system, which in my head, is always failing.

There are only three things left to try:

• Wearing a surgical mask while cleverly hiding it under a big, stylish scarf.

• Starting a movement or campaign along the lines of Nancy Reagan's "Just Say No" (to drugs). Mine can be called Just Stay Home (when you are sick and putrid).

• Living in a bubble.

Would that I could do the latter, readers! In my bubble, I’d be sitting in a reclining chair, reading my Nook, playing Bubble Witch Saga on my Ipad, watching Downton Abbey on the tele, and drinking a glass of Spanish wine. I’d wave to all of you from inside, happy as a sandboy, whatever the helladeria that means. You’d wave back with a look that says you "get me" . . . you know . . . with a faux, encouraging smile and nod. But secretly you'd be giving each other knowing glances, suggesting I be admitted to American Horror Story's Asylum, and whispering: “that AmyMC . . . she may be good for a random blog post, but boy is she BATSHIT CAHRAZY.”