Lucinda Rosenfeld

       Deadlines met–and weather flawless–I grant myself the afternoon off. I am a happy girl. For several lazy hours, I wander aimlessly across the rolling greensward of Prospect Park. I am happy to be away from the phone. The phone rings all day long. I admit that I would be devastated if it stopped ringing. Still, there are times when to have escaped one’s ringing phone feels like freedom itself. It’s only later that one begins to experience “phonelessness” as alienation–and rushes home in giddy expectation of a flashing red light.
       Boyfriend G. once joked that I call to tell him that I moved a paper clip. He’s not wrong. Recounting the minutiae of my daily life to G. has, in eight months’ time, become something of a habit. My friend A. and I have our phone habit, too. We talk as much as six times a day. We call to update each other on what we’ve heard and how we heard it–and also where we’re going and what we’re doing there. Once upon a time, A. and I would spend our afternoons in downtown coffee shops entertaining each other with absurdist novel plots guaranteed not to produce best sellers. I seem to remember one involving a terrorist plot waged against the SoHo designer shop Agnès B. by a group of anti-fashion Trotskyites. As we grow older and our lives more complicated, there seems to be less and less time for these types of senseless hi-jinks. Though we still have our jokes. We still think the word “high” is very funny–as in, “The building is very high.”
       On the phone last night, my older sister M. and I reminisce about the music instructor at our grammar school in New Jersey. His name was Mr. Aida, and he couldn’t have been much older than 25. He played the electric bass and had black silky hair which he slicked back with grease. All the kids thought he was cool. He was fired anyway–for teaching the Knack song “My Sharona” to the fourth-grade chorus. I don’t recall “My Sharona” being a particularly explicit song. M. seems to recall a line which ends “creeping up my thigh.” She sings it for me. Before long, M. and I are singing, “Mam-ma-ma-ma-my Sha-ro-na.” Then we start laughing, and we can’t stop.
       Have never seen the sitcom Ellen before tonight. Like a zillion others, I tune in for the much-hyped “coming out” episode. I don’t hate it. I’m always happy to see “compulsory heterosexuality” take a hit. Ellen is sweet. Oprah makes a dreamy therapist. Though it bothers me that Ellen’s fictional love interest is played by Laura Dern, an “out” heterosexual who looks nothing like 99.99 percent of the lesbian population in this country. Not that lesbians shouldn’t look like Laura Dern if they want to–long blond hair and all. But the image of the “lesbian” as played by Laura Dern–look, a major babe who turns out to like women!--felt too easy.
       Also, must all points of contention in America today be assigned a celebrity spokesperson? It’s not Ellen DeGeneres’ fault that the mainstream media has been playing this story as if the act of “coming out” was invented by Ellen DeGeneres. It’s still aggravating.
       Though I suppose I’m in no position to complain about celebrity-driven “journalism.” I work for a tabloid which stands at the forefront of such. I should have realized this at 5 o’clock when, faced with a mock-up of tomorrow’s column, I asked if it was necessary that the “John F. Kennedy” portion of “John F. Kennedy International Airport” be boldfaced. I was told that all proper names are boldfaced. I argued that sometimes “JFK” is just an airport. I lost.