Monday, February 26, 2007


PART ONE: Cellphones

For anyone who has doubted the existence of Divine retribution, I present the following tale:

On a recent Shabbat afternoon, Bungalow Babe found herself in a nail salon. Being shomer shabbos (in a frum Conservative way) getting a mani-pedi would not normally be on the list of kosher activities for a Bungalow Day-of-Rest. However, due to her vigorous treadmill workouts (and penchant for traipsing through the streets of Manhattan in Isaac Mizrahi boots with four-inch heels (, there were formidable calluses on the soles of her feet. In addition, her hands looked like hell from several months of nerve-wracking, business-related stress that caused her to gnaw on her cuticles and ignore her nails to the point that they had become lethal weapons.

As there was a bar mitzvah that night…and as Shabbat would be over by the time it came to paying… Bungalow Babe decided to slither inside the salon (glancing hither and yon to make sure none of her Ortho friends were anywhere to be found) and chap some Me Time.

Selecting an appropriately f*%k-me color for her toes and more understated tone for her hands, Bungalow Babe removed her sneakers, rolled her running pants above her knees, climbed into the upholstered pedicure throne, lifted her feet onto the rim of the tub -- bubbling with aromatic hot water -- and awaited the removal of nail polish by the subservient woman who knelt before her.

A shock of icy cold as an acetone-saturated cotton ball assaulted her toenails and then the hum of mindless relaxation as Bungalow Babe picked up the Us Magazine (or was it Star?) left on the pedicure throne beside her. It was the issue with a recently baldified Britney Spears. Ah, joy. Service to one’s feet and celebrity gossip. Stripped of their chipped polish, Bungalow Babe’s feet were firmly tapped, signaling that it was time to dip them into their bath.

Ahhhhhhh. Bliss so extreme that it obliterated Bungalow Babe’s desire to even open the magazine. The hot soapy water surged and swelled around Bungalow Babe’s feet, every foot-cell singing in joy. Her eyes closed, her head rolled backwards. The pedicure lady lifted one foot and then a tinny symphonic rendition of the William Tell Overture filled the salon.

“Yeah! Hiiiiiiiiiiiii!!!! How are you????? No, I’m getting my nails done. On the West Side. A little place, I don’t know the name. Hey’d you get my e-mail from yesterday???? What’s going on????????????????”

Bungalow Babe’s eyes popped open. She turned her head towards the front of the salon where the manicure stations stood. She trained her ears and focused her eyes. There were three people having their nails done: an aristocratic older gent, a middle-aged woman in a winter white corduroy pants suit and a thirty-something woman in a velour running suit – the type favored by suburban moms -- long frizzy hair obscuring her face, cellphone balanced between shoulder and ear.

“Really? That’s great!!! What are they asking per month? One thousand? For a three-bedroom! That’s amazing! You can’t get that in New York!!!”

Her voice rang out through the relaxed quiet of the salon. The elderly gentleman looked at his manicurist and raised an eyebrow. The lady in the white pants suit shuffled the photocopied pages on her lap that she was attempting to read. My pedicurist turned her head towards the front of the store, frowning. The proprietress of the store stepped outside to talk on her own phone.

For the better part of twenty minutes this one-sided phone conversation went on. Inane tidbits of some bimbo’s personal life filled the air of the salon, invading Bungalow Babe’s private well as everyone else's. Even as Ms. Yappy-Pants moved from the manicure station to the nail dryers, the conversation kept going. At about the 21-minute mark, Bungalow Babe blew a fuse.

“Hey, Big Mouth,” she shouted from the pedicure station towards the dryer. “We’re tired of hearing your private conversation. Take it outside.”

The lady in the pants suit immediately smiled at Bungalow Babe and mouthed “thank you.” The storeowner gave an exasperated shrug and glanced desperately towards the inconsiderate client. The gentleman looked like he might skewer the Taliban Talker with his walking stick. The nail technicians simply seemed resigned. Having spoken her peace, Bungalow Babe settled back in her seat, opened up Us or Star Magazine and prepared to find out who’s taking care of Britney’s kids while she publicly self-destructs.

“I don’t know. It’s about an hour’s drive from the Valley. Not during rush hour, that’s longer. You should really consider living inside the city….”

A flash of rage shot through Bungalow Babe. Unbelievable. Was it possible that Motor Mouth didn’t hear her? Was she deranged? Some new breed of insensitive, self-absorbed, entitled monster? Did she have no desire for privacy? And if not, wasn’t she at least worried that someone was going to beat the crap out of her?

“Shhhhh!” At first gentle and then insistent. It was the pants suit lady, now actively upset. “Shhhhhhhh!”

“Well, first I’m going to go to the gym and then I’m meeting friends and then…”

Pants suit lady and Bungalow Babe locked steely gazes. The store manager breathed fire. The senior citizen was bursting out of his suit like the Incredible Hulk. Something was about to go down.

“When did you see him? Yeah? Did he tell you that we spoke last week?” Logorrhea Lady finally stood up and put her coat on without dislodging her phone from its spot between her shoulder and ear. Her hair still hung over her face. It was impossible to see her face but I knew exactly who she was.

She was the Avenging Angel of Shabbat, come to remind Bungalow Babe of the importance of honoring the spirit of the Day of Rest, created to protect us from the ubiquity of commerce and our contemporary modes of communication…the myriad assaults of the modern world that wear us down as we make our way through secular time and space.

Next up: Drugs

It has often been stated that youth is wasted on the young.

How true.

But infinitely truer…and hardly ever stated…is the fact that drugs are wasted on the young.

Remember back to your high school and college days? As much fun as it was to get totally wasted then, it is infinitely better to get trashed with the brain and body that you have now.

Read more in the next posting of Bungalow Babe in the Big City

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