Teddy Bears & Gorilla Suits: A Harrowing Tale

2 Sep

When I was 2 years old, I was obsessed with teddy bears. I had tons of stuffed bears of all sizes and loved them all. Apparently, I loved teddy bears so much that I wanted a teddy bear-themed 3rd birthday party. Not one to shy away from themes, my mom went all out. I had a teddy bear cake, teddy bear plates, napkins, party favors, etc. I’m sure I also had all my stuffed bears attending the party as well. Probably in outfits, since that’s the kind of kid I was.

See? I loved teddy bears.

Anyway, since it was my 3rd birthday party and I was officially a Big Girl – I even had a little brother now! – my mom wanted to make the experience extra special. There was a surprise coming!

In walked a giant singing bear! My mom looked at me expectantly, waiting to see my face light up with a huge grin. Instead, I crumbled into a pile of screams and tears.

I was absolutely terrified.

I guess my parents had the bear leave, simultaneously apologizing while trying to console their now shrieking 3 year-old. Needless to say, the “real life bear” was a bit much for me to handle.

This is me at 3, having recovered from the Giant Bear Fiasco

Fast forward 21 years and I’m about to turn 24. I’ve been at a new job for a few months and Twin had just begun working with me a few weeks earlier. Since she was new to the office and since we have a habit of humiliating each other on our birthday’s – in as public of a way as possible – I had gotten her these two enormous clown balloons that she then had to carry home with her. On the subway. To Queens.

There were two of these monsters.

So, on the day of my 24th birthday, I’m a little apprehensive going into work. I arrive and my desk is empty. No giant balloons yet. As afternoon approaches, I’m a little on edge. And then it happens.

While I may appear to be laughing, I’m actually shaking with terror and holding back tears.

Four of my best friends had gotten me a singing telegram. In the form of a giant, hot pink, coconut-bra-and-tutu-wearing gorilla. And as Twin look at me expectantly, ready for my face to light up with laughter, I fought back tears. See, I don’t really remember my 3rd birthday party with the Giant Bear Fiasco, but that fear that was instilled in me back in 1987? That fear is still very much there.

There’s a reason I hate the Times Square characters on the street. There’s a reason people in animal suits absolutely petrify me. I’d simply forgotten it was there – and of course I’d never mentioned it to my friends.

I mean, how do you casually say, “By the way, I have an unreasonable yet paralyzing fear of people in animal costumes but I’m not totally sure why.”?

After this harrowing experience – you can see my facial expressions were mangled with laughter and grins hiding my utter horror – I called my mom and explained what happened and the anxiety that plagued me. (I mean, I was shaking for hours after this).

She simply burst out laughing and – albeit slightly guiltily – relayed to me the story of my 3rd birthday party.

Letters to the Neighborhood

20 Apr

Walking to work this morning – and then throughout the day – I found myself composing short letters to people I saw on the street. It turned into a game, then, and I just had to write them all down…


Dear Man Smoking in Front of Me,

I don’t like your second-hand smoke. When I try to pass you, please don’t speed up. I have to speed up then, which is a challenge after breathing in the remnants of your cigarette. Honestly, I don’t care if you smoke. I think it’s gross, but I won’t even judge you. If you want to destroy your lungs, it’s your prerogative. However, please don’t make it so difficult for me to avoid the deathly remains of your bad habit.


Dear Woman with the Limping German Shepherd,

Where did you go? I saw you every morning for so many months. Your dog was so old. He limped and dragged his right hind leg. One day you had to help him walk. Every step looked painful, but I got used to seeing you. Now you’ve been absent for a few weeks. I think maybe he died.


Dear Parents with the Adorable Girl with Bows in Her Hair,

Your daughter is precious. Every day she is so excited to be running up the street. Sometimes I imagine her going to pre-school. She must be 4 or 5. Seeing her in the mornings makes me smile. Thanks.


Dear Construction Workers on My Block,

You’ve been there for 16 months and I still have absolutely no idea what you do. I’ve never seen you do anything productive, but now you have a port-a-potty and a security guard. You produce an inordinate amount of trash for being so incredibly inefficient. Please get your stupid job done so my block can have sunlight again.


Dear Girl Who Ended a Four-Year Relationship and Slept with Another Guy for the Summer and is Still in Touch with Him,

I know all that because you were talking way too loudly in Bryant Park today at lunch. Seriously, I know that your ex of four years was not right for you – I get the impression he probably cheated. Then your rebound who you insist you were just having fun with decided he wanted to be the one to sweep you off your feet but you’re not that kind of girl who gets swept away and any girl who does get swept away spends months resenting the guy she’s with and ohmygod your coworker is totally socially inept and awkward and…maybe she’s retarded?!

Please be wary of your audience. Just because you’re in a crowded park in a crowded city doesn’t mean you are automatically invisible or inaudible. Quite the contrary.


Dear Pregnant Teen on the Subway Talking to Her Boyfriend,

I wasn’t trying to stare. You were telling a story about some girl who approached you and asked how far along you were; I just wanted to know the answer, too. You’re six months along. I hope it’s a healthy baby and I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable.


Love, Sara

I Do…Not?

28 Sep

The past several days, my entire Facebook newsfeed has become plagued by status updates and new photo albums revolving around weddings and engagements. Just today, two new albums documenting “Our Engagement” went up within minutes of each other. By girls (women, at this point?) I knew fairly well in college, haven’t kept in touch with, but still am slightly shocked that they are the ones planning their weddings!

The mild surprise that accompanies these particular girls’ identities and what I remember of them from college is really not the point, though. Several people from my high school have also recently become engaged and I am attending two weddings in the next two months – one of which I am IN!

To back up slightly, 10 days ago was my 25th birthday. Despite the fact that I can still pass for about 19 years old, the idea that on paper I am one quarter of a CENTURY is kind of unnerving. I mean, it’s not…but it is. Twenty-five is so young and so old all at once (and yeah, I get that when I’m 30 or 45 or whatever, I’ll realize it was never “old”…bare with me here). On its own, it’s really just another birthday (and it was one of the best I’ve had). But combine the whole quarter-century bullshit with all these weddings and rest-of-our-lives vows and I’m suddenly like, what the fuck!

On one hand, I cannot even begin to fathom being at the stage in my life where I am ready to commit to someone totally and completely. To commit to sharing my life with someone – my space, my thoughts, my body, my nights, my meals – that’s HUGE. I honestly don’t understand how anyone at this point in life knows for certain that this is the right decision for the rest of their lives.

Maybe I’m a jaded child of divorce, maybe I’m envious that these other girls (women?) and guys (men?) have so much confidence in their love for one another that they are ready to go the distance and really commit. Seeing it plastered all over Facebook, though, unhinges a level of insecurity I didn’t know I had and provokes this weird, foreign gut-desire to have that kind of love, too.

And then I concentrate really, really hard and get my perspective back into place. I’m only, barely 25. Despite multiple chances at starting new relationships this past year,  I’m single. Apparently because I want to be. Because when I’m painfully honest with myself, as gorgeous as the wedding photos are, as romantic as the flowers and cakes and candles and beaches and waves and diamonds are, I don’t want to be the girl in the pictures. Not yet, anyway.

The Day(s) I lost My Driver’s License

6 Mar

Once upon a time, in mid-September of 2007, I went out with Bex, BoyB, and one of BoyB’s friends who does not yet have a nickname on this blog. It was my 23rdbirthday celebration and we all got absurdly drunk even though I’m pretty sure it was the middle of the week. A couple weeks later was the first Homecoming As An Alum at my college. Frere was a junior there and all the girls were going back so of course I went for the weekend too. I took a Friday off work and drove down with K and as we entered town we stopped at the liquor store to stock up. As a newly 23 year old, having just spent 4 years in the town and 2 going to the one and only liquor store, it did not occur to me that I would be carded. If you’ve read the Awesome Facts About Me, you know that being carded should probably not come as a surprise to me until I’m closer to 30. I walked in with K, grabbed a $9 plastic handle (I mean it was only 4 months after graduation), and strutted up to the cash register. I’m pretty sure I thought I had some kind of I’m an alumni now look on my face. I’m also pretty sure the cashier thought I was 16. I reached in to get my driver’s license and…it was not there. My stomach dropped as I was asked to leave the storeand K forked over her ID and paid. Outside, I frantically called my mom to have her search through my purses at home and all my wallets, to no avail. I flashed back to my night out with Bex and co. and came to the tragic conclusion that I had drunkenly lost my ID. The rest of the weekend consisted of smooth-talking bouncers and signing several forms stating I was over 21.

Back home, I wasted no time in getting a new (this time horizontal! Yay!) driver’s license. I vowed to be more careful.

Fast forward to March 2008. Twin and I arranged a very special, very classy Astoria Pub Crawl, during which we visited only the nicest establishments in Astoria, Queens. We donned sparkly velvet tops, gold lame (pronounced lah-may, not lame, although they were also the latter), and body glitter. We started in the afternoon and made it past 11pm and-get this-I was only carded once! Only one time, the last bar of the night, at my drunkest, did I have to take my 4-month old driver’s license out of my wallet and show it to a bouncer. The next morning, when I looked in my wallet to see if I had managed to salvage any cash, I noticed an empty space. Where my driver’s license should have been. It was gone. Again.

Ok, at this point, I was just stunned. I am (shockingly) not the type to lose things in my drunken (mis)adventures (although I did manage to lose a single flip flop, that’s a different story). It just doesn’t happen that often. So two driver’s licenses within barely more than 3 months? Unheard of.

I moved to Manhattan in January 2008, so by March I couldn’t very well go back home and get another (third) CT license. I was going to get a NY license anyway, so I told myself this was just forcing me to do it sooner than later. Sooner, as it turns out, became early May. In the two month hiatus, I managed to take my passport out to bars with me. Given my ID track record, though, I was a bit paranoid about this. The obvious solution then was to use dental floss and tie my passport to myself. I did this on multiple occasions. Bartenders gave me some weird looks, but I am still, to this day, in possession of my passport.

Fast forward one more time to early May. I finally got my new NY driver’s license. Conveniently, the day it came, I had plans to go out! So I did! And I liked getting carded! Because I had an ID to show! And it wasn’t tied to my pants!

The next day, I wanted to show one of my coworkers my new license. Because I looked sooo cute in the picture. So I went to my wallet to get it out. The familiar dread came over me as I saw that empty space. This cannot be happening AGAIN. I literally tore apart my wallet. Looked through pockets I didn’t even know existed. And finally I find one random somewhat hidden pocket juuuust behind the slot my ID usually slides into. I reach in…

And pull out THREE licences.

And that’s how I discovered where Drunk Sara stashes her IDs.

My First Time Buying Groceries Online

25 Feb

Sunday night I ordered my groceries from FreshDirect for the first time ever. I’ve been wanting to try it out and they sent me a 25%-off-my-groceries coupon and I had literally run out of food entirely. I have to make something really clear before I continue. Grocery shopping is a huge deal for me. Huge. Deal. I am incredibly OCD about my food, from buying it to cooking it to eating it. Ironically, when I cook I don’t ever follow recipes, but that’s not the point. Normally, I go grocery shopping about once every month (admittedly far too infrequently). When I do go, though, I have a very specific list. In categories. And I carry a pen to cross things off as soon as I put each item in my basket. My roommate offered to go with my one time (she was bored, I’m entertaining) and I warned her that it might take a while. I wasn’t sure she wouldn’t be beyond freaked out when she saw how weird I am when I set foot in a grocery store.

Given that grocery stores are such a source of anxiety for me, I figured that maybe a virtual grocery store would alleviate some of that. Knowing now how that turned out, I almost laughed out loud typing that sentence. As it turns out, as anxious as I might get in the store, I need to go there. I need to see what I’m buying because apparently, I have absolutely no comprehension whatsoever of a very key grocery-shopping-concept:


Yeah. So you can imagine where this is going.

The FreshDirect Man buzzed at exactly 8:32 and as I stood in the door waiting for him to arrive at my doorstep (third-floor-walk-up), I heard him grunting. I didn’t order that much stuff, did I? He presented me with four (four?!) boxes of groceries and basically ran away. Luckily, one box simply had a carton of eggs, so my fears of over-buying subsided. Then the bottom box gave me a near heart attack. What the hell is in there? It was seriously seven pounds. Or something close. Heavy. For groceries. For one girl. I opened it up and my online-grocery-shopping blunders became painfully clear.

I bought chicken, fish and ground turkey as my protein (and yeah, I keep track of that stuff). The ground turkey was pretty standard, maybe a bit less than a pound. What I expected. I made it into 11 turkey burgers and froze them (I’m very excited about this). Then I got to the fish. When I ordered it, I assumed I normally bought 1lb. This fish came in 2lbs or up, so I figured, Hey, what’s a bit extra? Uh, not quite, moron. Apparently, I normally buy about 1/4lb of fish. This time I bought TWO POUNDS. That is 8 times the amount I’ve ever bought. Best-Friend-in-Chicago told me last night (after I got this delivery) that Monday night her chef-brother cooked 2lbs of lamb for dinner…and it fed SIX people. Right.

Then I had no choice but to deal with massive amount of chicken I somehow managed to purchase. In my defense, FreshDirect totally tricked me! They told me it was only $1.99/lb! And I should buy this ValuePak! Of chicken breast! No bones! No skin! So cheap! (Oh-by-the-way-it-only-comes-in-bags-of-five-pounds.)

Five. Pounds. Of CHICKEN! Do you have any idea how much that is? You probably do, because everyone I talked to had an idea of how much that was except for me apparently because I ordered it without a second thought.

As I told my friends about this (and as I am typing it out), their reactions were all very similar (as I imagine yours to be), causing me to tell you this: I GET IT NOW. “Now” being the operative word. As soon as those boxes arrived, I got it. As I spent the next hour+ cutting, wrapping-in-foil, and putting away this excessive amount of meat, I got it. As I spend the next month+ thawing chicken, fish, and turkey burgers and not going grocery shopping, I will continue to get it.

And believe me, when I finally manage to consume these EIGHT POUNDS of meat, I will walk down the block, cross the street, and go to the damn grocery store.

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