You Are Me

Rob at 7

Rob at 7

Yesterday’s letter to my sons got me thinking about another letter I wrote many years ago. It was originally published in Esquire and is still my favorite story.


Dear Robbie,

You were born a poet. Let me quote a few of your best lines:

I bet my birth mother is still crying.

I wish God would take the sadness off me.

If she kept me, I never would’ve known you.

I have a space in my heart that never closes.

As I sit here wrestling with words that invariably elude my grasp, I wish I could write like that. But what do I expect? You are seven and I am only forty-two.

Before you read any further, you should know that your mom doesn’t want me to write this. She doesn’t want me to write anything that might one day awaken any doubt in you. So I made a deal with her. I promised that if she feels the same way after I’ve finished, I’ll punt on the whole thing. That’s how intensely she feels about you, how fiercely protective she is of you. She doesn’t want me to write this letter because she loves you so much and I love you so much that I have to write it, even if I don’t show it to you until you have kids of your own.

Here are the words your mom fears: I didn’t want to adopt you.

I know that sounds like powerful stuff, but to me those words are as trifling as the ants that march across our kitchen floor before you put your thumb to them. They mean nothing because I can’t even remember feeling that way. I’ve searched my heart and can’t find any trace of not wanting you. It would be like not wanting air. Still, just as I can’t imagine not wanting you now, there was a time that I couldn’t imagine you. I didn’t know you were going to be you. I only knew you were not going to be me.

Your mom says I was hung up on this crazy little thing called genetics, which should never be mistaken for that crazy little thing called love. It all seems so bizarre, given that my family background includes everything from cancer and heart disease to criminal behavior. Your mom says that I was worried that you wouldn’t be perfect, that we would be inheriting somebody else’s problem, and that nurture would be revealed as nothing more than nature’s cheap consolation prize. Your mom says I can’t recollect any of these gory details because sometimes I can be a stubborn bastard.

That must be where you get it from.

Because, Rob, when all is said and done, you are me — only way better looking. You are me, if I looked like Brad Pitt and your mom looked like Sharon Stone. You’re more like me than Zachary, who inherited torn genes from me and Mom. You and I are both the eldest son, moderately shy and exceedingly anxious. We love Michael Jordan, movies, scallion pancakes, and the occasional doody joke. We’re natural-born outsiders who share the same thin skin.

And there’s something else that you and I have in common: I once had a space in my heart that wouldn’t close. I still remember the cause. When I was four years old, two very large men wearing very large hats came into our house and took my father away. He didn’t come back for eight years, and even when he returned, he couldn’t repair what had been ripped apart. My dad, like yours, was a sad schmuck, sad in that he never tried to change himself into a dad.

For me, everything changed the moment I saw you.

After four years of infertility and a bout with cancer thrown in for good luck (if I hadn’t had it, I never would have known you), I was finally ready to entertain alternatives to producing a mirror image. I tend to arrive at places in my heart long after your mom has moved in and decorated. Your mom always knew that she wanted to be a mom, while I was just beginning to understand what it meant to be a dad. You know the next part from your baby book that you keep under your pillow:

They met a wonderful young lady that was growing a baby boy in her belly. But she wasn’t able to give her baby all the good things the world had to offer, and she wanted that for him very, very much.

Seven months later, I found myself in the hospital scanning the blue “It’s a Boy!” stickers on the bassinets until I saw your birth mother’s last name neatly printed in black ink. And at that moment, the space in my heart was filled. It was either magic or God, I’ve forgotten what I believed in at the time. “You’re my son, you’re my son,” I quietly mouthed to you through the glass again and again, trying to convince myself that you were real. Then I went to your mom and we hugged and cried, while you kept sleeping, our little boy, Robbie James Carlat, unaware of how much joy you could bring to two people.

And the reason I can no longer recall not wanting to adopt you is simple: That feeling completely vanished on the day you were born. “I know, I know. It was love at first sight,” you like to say, sounding like a cartoon version of me anytime I bring up the subject of your birth. But it wasn’t like that between my dad and me. I don’t remember my father ever kissing me or, for that matter, me kissing him. The thought of saying “I love you” to each other, even when he came back from jail or as he lay dying, would have cracked both of us up. In fact, the closest my father ever came to a term of endearment was calling me “Kiddo” (which is the full extent of his paternal legacy and why I usually answer “Ditto, Kiddo” when you say “I love you”).

There’s a black-and-white photograph of my dad holding me up high above his head — I must have been six months old — and it’s the only time I can recall him looking genuinely happy to be with me. I used to think of that picture in the months after you were born when I danced you to sleep. I never dance, not even with your mom (“They’re all going to laugh at you!” from Carrie pretty much sums up why), but I loved dancing with you. While you sucked on your bottle, I savored the feeling of your tiny heartbeat against my own. Joni Mitchell’s Night Ride Home CD was on just loud enough so we wouldn’t wake up your mom, and I’d gently sing to you, “All we ever wanted, was just to come in from the cold, come in, come in, come in from the cold.”

Still, the space you were coming in from was far colder than mine had ever been. It’s the original black hole, and all of our kissing and hugging are not enough. All of your incessant I love yous and I love the familys — words you repeated as if to convince yourself, the same way I did when I first set eyes on you — are not enough. All of the times that you asked me to pick you up, and I happily obliged because I knew a day would come when you would stop asking, are not enough. Every night when we read your baby book, which desperately tries to explain whose belly you grew in and how you got to us, is not enough.

Nothing is enough for there’s nothing that approaches the clear and direct poetry of “I hate myself because I’m adopted” or “I’m only happy when I’m hugging and kissing you. All the other times I just make believe.” If anything, you get the prize for coming closest to the pin with, “Being adopted is hard to understand.” And what do you win for saying the darndest things? A profound sadness. And let’s not forget its little brother, anger, which you direct at your little brother for no apparent reason other than that he serves as a constant reminder that you are the one who is not like the others.

The irony is that Zachy, the prototypical little bro, only wants to be you, while you’d do anything to be him.

I hope that one day God grants your wish and takes the sadness off you, because your mom and I know how truly blessed we are to have two beautiful sons — one chosen by us and one chosen for us. It’s like we wrote at the end of your baby book:

Mommy and Daddy waited a long time for a baby–a baby boy just like you. And though it might have been nice to have you grow in mommy’s belly … always remember that you grew in our hearts!

Perhaps the only thing we neglected to consider at the time was your heart. Which reminds me of sandcastles. A few summers ago, you and I built a beauty on Uncle Stephen’s beach, and you wanted to surround it with a moat, so we started to dig a hole with your big yellow bucket. We kept digging faster and faster until the hole got so deep that you jumped in. “Daddy, get the water,” you said, and I ran into the waves, filled the bucket, dragged it back, and dumped it into the hole. The sand quickly drank it up, so I kept going back and forth, trying to fill the hole with water, but it was like pouring the water down a drain, and after a while we finally said the hell with it and ran into the ocean.

You are the sand, little boy, and I will always be the water.

And that was where I intended to end this letter until you came padding into the room in your G.I. Joe pajamas. “What are you writing about?” you asked. And when I told you it was a story about you, you asked, “Is it going to be in a big magazine?”

And I said, “Yeah, how do you feel about that?”

And you said, “Scared.”

And I said, “How come?”

And you said, “Because I’m going to be in it alone.”

And I said, “No you won’t. I’ll be in it with you.”

And you said, “I love you daddy.”

And that’s when I had to stop writing.

What We Talk About When We Talk About Love

"It's time to talk about, um, er, you know."

“It’s time to talk about, um, er, you know.”

Dear Rob and Zach,

I think it’s finally time for us to have “the talk.”

I’m not talking about the sex talk that we had when you guys were teenagers, which was basically a friendly reminder to just keep the thing covered, and I don’t remember any more than that because the awkwardness of it traumatized me almost as much as it traumatized you, and also at the time, you were probably having more sex than I was anyway so who was I to talk?

This talk is more important since you guys are older and I am older (great for you, not as great for me) and it’s about the most important thing in life and I know it’s gonna sound incredibly corny, but indulge me on this because I know someday you’ll also think it’s important. Nobody ever took the time to tell me about this and I wish someone had, although its unlikely I would’ve listened, just like it’s unlikely that you guys will listen to me now.

It’s about love (Ew!). And I know you guys have already experienced a taste of it, which puts you far ahead of where I was at your age, but my guess is there may be some things you don’t know about it, as there are still some things I don’t know and may never know. That’s just a disadvantage of being a dude.

The first thing is simple. Don’t ever take love for granted. It doesn’t happen too often so when it does come around, treat it the way you would treat the most precious thing you own, whatever the hell that is. This won’t be difficult in the beginning because this is all you will naturally want to do, but over time, other things like work and life can get in the way. So what I’m saying is — don’t let it.

The second thing is also simple. When you find someone you love, tell her! Don’t be a typical dick who doesn’t express his emotions and keeps everything bottled up inside and only says the L word badly scrawled inside of a birthday card or in response to when it’s said to you. Say the word every day and before you go to sleep at night. Most times you’ll mean it from the bottom of your heart and sometimes you’ll say it and won’t be able to feel it as deeply, but say it anyway. Say it, say it, say it.

The third thing is as simple as the first two. Let love breathe. When you find someone you love and who loves you, don’t hold on too tightly. You’ll need to figure out when to hold on and when to let go and the best advice I can give you here is to hold on when you think you should let go and let go when you think you should hold on. I wish I could tell you why this works, but I don’t know why myself and it’s really not that important.

What’s important is that all of these things about love are so simple and obvious yet also complicated and ambiguous. The main reason I’m writing this to you is because I want you to have more love in your life than I’ve had in mine because you are my most precious things.

And I know this all sounds so gay and corny but there it is.



Best. First. Kiss. Ever.

A wish that came true.

A wish that came true.

It happened again! The goddamn universe and its mysterious ways! I swear to God, I can’t make this stuff up.

So the reason I asked Zach about kissing in the first place was that I had gone out on a date last weekend and when the time came to make my move, I didn’t, and got a perfunctory peck-on-the-cheek consolation prize instead, but it was totally cool because I really liked the woman and knew that I’d eventually have another shot at it. As it happens, she lives just a few blocks away and we made a plan to see each other soon.

We started emailing in the beginning of the week and it was filled with all of the usual witty, flirty, semi-charming banter (which I will kindly spare you here) and the upshot was that we’re going out again on Friday night.

Full disclosure: one of the reasons I kinda, sorta in a completely innocent, non-scumbaggy kind of way wrote yesterday’s blog was so I could send it to her as a kissing ice breaker, admitting my history of apprehension and other assorted squirreliness, and lo and behold, she liked it! I believe her exact words were “You’re making me crazy.” To which I responded “GOOD!” She then sent me another email that said, “By the way, you should.” And I immediately sent one back saying, “I fully intend to.” And we exchanged some flirtier, kissier emails that made us both smile, to say nothing of feeling like we were in a John Hughes movie.

Now here’s where the goddamn universe comes in: I went to the local Rite-Aid late yesterday afternoon because I was out of kitchen garbage bags and Arizona Diet Arnold Palmer (I am the George Clooney of Park Slope) and I’m standing on line at the checkout, listening to that Kendrick Lamar song I love, and guess who walks in?

That’s right! Like I said, I cannot make this stuff up.

She looked at me and I looked at her and for a few surreal moments, it was totally disorienting like we were in each other’s dream because just a few minutes ago we were emailing about the logistics of our first kiss (I’m also the General David Petraeus of Park Slope and, as you well know, my own biographer), and now we were face to face and I hadn’t even brushed my teeth.

“This is so crazy,” she said and started to laugh.

“I think we should kiss right here,” I said, and we were both smiling hard yet acting a little bit shy.

“I have stage fright,” she admitted and looked away for a second as her beautiful face turned slightly red.

“So do I!” I said. “I think everyone does.”

“I’m actually here to buy toilet paper,” she said. “Sexy, right?”

“Tell you what,” I said. “Lemme check out and I’ll come find you.”

She was shopping in the back, near the stationery section. “Do you think they have birthday candles?” she asked.

“I don’t know,” I said, “but let’s kiss.”

And we did. Right next to the Christmas ornaments and Dark and Lovely hair care products, under the glaring yet strangely romantic fluorescent Rite-Aid lights, we kissed and then paused for a moment to look into each other’s smiling eyes and then gently kissed again and began to breath heavily and then paused to drunkenly smile at each other and then sweetly, juicily, tenderly kissed one more time until someone on the store intercom ordered a cleanup on aisle Larry.

Best. First. Kiss. Ever.

Good Vibes

Should I or shouldn't I?

Should I or shouldn’t I?

I can’t believe that I’m in my mid-fifties and the prospect of kissing a woman for the first time still makes me feel like I’m back in ninth grade. It’s that thrilling, almost nauseating combination of Carly Simon-esque anticipation mixed with Kierkegaardian dread (and those kids, I think, would’ve made a cute couple). In other words, I never know when to make my move. So I thought I’d consult an expert on the subject.

Larry: Yo.

Zach: Yo.

L: Can I ask you a question?

Z: Shoot.

L: It’s about kissing.

Z: Uh-oh.

L: HA! Anyway, here goes: How do you know when it’s the right time to kiss a girl?

Z: I gotta be honest with you, Dad. I don’t think I’m the right person to ask.

L: How come?

Z: Cuz it’s not like I’m going out on dates.

L: Right, I know.

Z: It’s just that I don’t find myself in those type of situations.

L: I get it. College is different. But hypothetically speaking …

Z: And I’m more like the guy who misses the opportunity and winds up in the friend zone.

L: Like father, like son. Story of my life, man.

Z: It’s like I’ll be at a bar talking to a girl. For me, it’s just talking.

L: For me, too. I know what you mean.

Z: And I’ll notice how close she is to my face, and since I’m taller she may get a little closer …

L: Yep, that works. I’m also taller.

Z: And … I literally don’t know how to put the rest into words.

L: Just keep going.

Z: Well, if we’re both vibing each other, it just sorta happens.

L: Right, right! So here’s my deal. I’ll be out on a date and we’re “vibing” …

Z: HA!

L: … and then it’s the end of the night and things begin to get a little squirrely.

Z: I truly have no idea what you’re talking about.

L: It’s like should I or shouldn’t I?

Z: I don’t know what to tell you, Dad. It’s just one of those things that I can’t explain.

L: Me neither. Last question: What makes someone a good kisser?

Z: Dad! This is awkward for me.

L: Sorry. Didn’t mean for it to be.

Z: It’s fine. It’s just not the right topic for me.

L: You think Rob would be okay if I asked him about it?

Z: HA! He’d be twice as embarrassed.

L: Cool. I’ll call him tomorrow!

I Don’t Want to Be Right


Mum’s now the word.

I know you may find this hard to believe, but I used to be a stubborn prick. I always needed to have the last word and would never admit to being wrong. Because I was always right! End of story. Hey! I said end of story! SHUT UP!

It probably started with my father, who was also a stubborn prick (and, in his free time, an asshole). While we were living under the same roof, we’d go at it like George and Martha in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? And just when the battle seemed to be over, I’d nail him with one last snotty remark and he’d look at me with murder in his eyes, turn tomato-red, and then plow his fist into the wall. Cue Nelson Muntz.

Here’s another classic example of my prickishness: One day, when I was 13 or so, my best friend, Steve, and I were walking to the schoolyard to shoot hoops. Along the way we took turns dribbling the ball between our legs and around our backs, and at some point Steve accidentally dribbled the ball off of his foot, although he thought it went off of mine. The ball went tumbling into the street and I said something like, “Go get the ball, it hit off of you last.” And he said, “No way, you go get it, it hit off of you.” And I said, “I’m not getting it!” And we were both laughing until we realized that neither one of us was getting the ball. We just left it there in the street – we never got it! – and didn’t speak with each other for several months afterward.

After all these years, you’ll be happy to know that I’m ready to get the fucking ball. Hi, my name is Larry and I’m nearly a grown-up! Arrested development (like the TV show) was finally put on the shelf and most of the credit goes to — you guessed it — women. Women have taught me to be less stubborn and more flexible, to say nothing about opening my eyes to the reality that I’m hardly ever right (that last part should be sung by Luther Ingram).

My ex-wife and subsequent girlfriends have been right about most everything (and yes, you heard me right, shut up!). Even when I was absolutely, positively sure they were wrong, in retrospect they turned out to be right. It’s proven to be one of their best magic tricks. They are the Nate Silvers of correctness, political and otherwise. And there’s only a 7 percent chance that I’m joking.

Now, before you call me crazy (guys, I’m talking to you!), hear me out. Remember that argument about that obscure actor’s name from that old TV show you watched when you were a kid and you were positive his name was such and such, and your wife or girlfriend said it was definitely someone else, and as it turned out you were right?

Well, women don’t care about being right on trivial bullshit like that. They shrewdly throw us a bone when the argument centers on this kind of nonsense. But when it comes to the big important stuff in your life, whatever the hell it may be, they not only know to get the ball — but will very often grab you by it and squeeze until you’ve seen the error of your ways. Of course, you know that I’m speaking metaphorically here. For the most part, anyway.

This isn’t easy for me to admit, but as soon as I accepted being wrong all of the time, everything just felt right. When I stop to think about it, I guess I’d rather be happy than right.

Am I right?

Sex, Love and Schmucks, 17 Syllables at a Time


No idea what this means either.

My friend Tony and I wrote a ridiculous, little book a few years ago called “Guyku: Sex, Love and Schmucks — 17 Syllables at a Time.”

Here’s a tiny bit of how we pitched it:

Guyku contains everything you need to know about men from the first magical moment when you drunkenly meet them to the even more magical moment when you get them into bed to the penultimate magical moment in your life when you marry them to the all-time greatest moment of your life when you have children with them to the moment literally right after that when you begin to feel sick to your stomach about them and wish they were dead. We’re kidding, we’re kidding! But not really.

Unfortunately (and perhaps not surprisingly), no one was crazy enough to publish this nonsense.

Until today.



When the sun descends

Your dreams come into focus

Just show more cleavage


A small compliment

Melts the heart of frozen ice

He touches your thigh


On a warm spring night

Loneliness evaporates

Poke him on Facebook


The sensitive guy

Waterfalls of emotion

Also wants to get laid


In a secret room

A dark truth beneath his smile

He likes Taylor Swift


Guys and drugs don’t mix

Unless you’re both on the drugs

Then, oh boy, they do


Warmness of his touch

Gazing deep into your eyes

Hope he’s not a schmuck


Tell him that he’s smart

Even if he’s not that smart

He won’t guess the truth


Secrets you’ve told him

About you and your roommate

Delete those photos


The phone doesn’t ring

He’s just not that into you

Try sexting instead


He likes to stay home

You love to go out dancing

That’s why God made gays


Before you met him

Unbearable loneliness

Now just bearable


When do you confess

That he would finish second

To chocolate pudding



The men are from Mars

And the women from Venus

Uranus is closed


All men are babies

Thinking about the same thing

Just don’t change him … yet


Real intimacy

Requires both love and trust

Good luck with all that


He opens slowly

Revealing his fears and dreams

Then he drops his pants


Softly kiss his eyes

Rub his legs and tired feet

Or pass on the feet


Listen with your heart

That is all you need to know

And a Brazilian


His body language

Expresses hidden desires

And not so hidden


Two souls embrace

A new heartbeat between them

It feels really big


Face of an angel

Lost in your heavenly arms

Wake him in an hour


If you’re done with him

Be nice, let him down gently

Mock him on your blog



Love is just a word

Until someone gives it meaning

You know what we mean


Love is not blind, no

It just helps you see clearly

What others can’t see


Partner and soul mate

Your hearts complete each other

Especially naked


First ask yourself this

Are you with him just because

He does what you ask?


Love vs. “in” love

Two different kinds of things

Little word, big deal


Tattoo with your name

Forever under his skin

Nice visual pun


Your heart beats faster

Whenever you’re around him

Are you doing coke?


How to know for sure

If it’s the right decision?

One way to find out



Scared of commitment

Make it easier on him

Just do everything


Til death do you part

Sounds like sex with one person

Ad infinitum


Love, honor, respect

All sound so good in theory

They are first to go


No bed of roses

In fact, no bed or roses

Where are the roses?


Sometimes wondering

Did I marry the right one?

That is your answer


You had a bad dream

He was sleeping with someone

Turned out to be you


If he’d die for you

It’s not such a good idea

To ask just yet


If he asks the same

If you’d die for him

Change the subject fast


You don’t want children

He dotes on his sisters’ kids

Oh my God — You’re late!



Miracle of birth

Cherish and nurture for life

Your husband is toast


Baby is crying

It’s the middle of the night

Touch his dick; he’s up!


Babies are like crack

You can’t get enough of them

Soon enough, you will


Sex after children?

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

Ha ha ha ha ha


The babysitter

In her half-shirt and short-shorts

Will not be asked back


A sudden howling

In the corner of your dream

Next time, Ambien!


Alone time is crucial

Safely in each other’s arms

He makes your teeth itch


It’s a short walk from

Faithful, devoted spouse to

Desperate housewife



Guys will sometimes lie

Sure you know nothing about

This subject yourselves


He is working late

He is working still later

Who does he work with?


You trust him plenty

Her you have a problem with

You used to be her


Do not blame yourself

Unless you’re also to blame

Then knock yourself out


Divine forgiveness

Begins in a jewelry store

And ends on the couch


Two dying flowers

Shriveling in the noon day sun

Talking through lawyers


Just sign the papers

You’ll feel like a million bucks

Just sign the papers


Separation sucks

All anger and loneliness

But freeze joint accounts


You keep the children

No, you can keep the children

You keep the children


Time will heal the wound

Annoying when friends say this

Still, they went with you


Don’t let fear scare you

Things will get much better

He was such a schmuck



When all’s said and done

There’s no more need for talking

Wow, what a relief!


Welcome, twilight years!

Vampires without sucking

You are without teeth


The children are gone

Breathe in that freedom again

Oh my God! They’re back!


Geriatric sex

A near-death experience

Every time you try


Bodies not the same

Things don’t work like they used to

Who cares? Keep rubbing!


The hair in his nose

Seems to be growing a beard

Don’t look at his ears


No fool like old fool

Love’s not only thing that’s blind

Also deaf and dumb


What? What did you say?

I didn’t say anything!

Who? Who was that? What?

Open Your Eyes

Woman on top.

To Larry with love.


Hi Larry! It’s Penélope.

Oh hi!

I just wanted to call and say how happy I was to hear the good news!

That’s so sweet of you, Pen. Is it okay if I call you Pen?

Yes, yes, of course. Teller won’t mind. I make a little joke.

Penélope, I have to confess that I’ve been in love with you ever since I first saw you in that movie where you were naked … I forget what it was called.

Thank you, Larry. You know, I often think about you when I am making love to Javier.

That’s funny because I often think about you too when … well, let’s just say “a lot.”

In fact, I called out your name the other night and Javier flew off the handle like he was back in No Country for Old Men. The Coen Brothers annoy me.

Javier annoyed me in Skyfall. What the hell was that?

I know, Larry, but enough about him. Let’s talk about you, my darling. Do you remember the scene from Nine where I do my little song and dance number?

Are you kidding? Of course! “Squeeze me, here and here … and … here.” OMG!

That was all for you, my sweet sweet man. Matthew McConaughey thought it was for him, but he is just a boy.

You know, I never understood you being with him. Or for that matter, with Tom Cruise.

Well, talk to Nicole and Katie, if … how do you say … you get my drift. Larry, love of my life, fire of my loins! I need to be with you! And I need to tell you a little secret …

I don’t have to sleep with Almodóvar, do I? Because that would be a dealbreaker.

Hahaha. No, no, no. On the contrary, I was talking to my dear friend Salma Hayek, do you know her?

Yes, she rocked in Savages.

I hate Oliver Stone, but anyway, I was talking to Salma the other night and out of the blue she mentioned your name and told me that she has often fantasized about having a threesome with all of us, and I told her that I, too, have had the same fantasy. We call it “the Larry sandwich.”

Oh Pen! You’re more than any man can handle. And besides, Salma is very short.

Larry, my precious love! I am leaving Javier, the baby and Pedro! I need to be with you in Brooklyn!  I need to be your muse. I need to feel your lips on mine. I have heard that you are a wonderful kisser.

Um, not according to the last woman I was dating.

She must be a fool! Larry, Larry, Larry! Only unfulfilled love can be romantic.

That’s from Vicky Christina Barcelona, right?


And I’m not really talking to you? This is a dream, yes?

Yes, my sleepy angel.

And you’re not leaving Javier or Pedro, are you?

Of course not, silly. Have you ever seen Javier in Biutiful? He’s the sexiest man alive. And Pedro is a genius.

So I should probably just wake up now.

Open your eyes. Or Vanilla Sky, whichever you prefer.

Days Like This

Another self-portrait taken with Instagram.

Another self-portrait taken with Instagram.

It’s an “all the leaves are brown and the sky is gray” kind of day and I’m always amazed how the weather seems to magically mirror my mood or maybe I get into a mood because of the weather, who knows? Maybe I should ask Sam Champion.

I’m sitting here in my apartment thinking that I should be a whole lot happier for a guy who just learned that he doesn’t have cancer. Don’t get me wrong, I’m incredibly thankful and relieved, but instead of turning cartwheels, I’ve been pondering the precariousness of life because that’s what happens when you grow up watching Woody Allen films. You know, fun stuff like how it can all be gone in the blink of an eye, whether it’s your health or your job or someone you love, and all of the other clinically depressing things that pharmaceutical companies have been exploiting and making billions of dollars on.

For the most part, I try not to dwell on these existential matters too often because – duh! – it’s miserable, scary and counterproductive (and I’m also not French), and even thought about not posting this ode to gloominess because god knows why anyone would want to read it? But then I thought that we all have days like this (Mama said).

I used to try to fight my way out of my own head by employing all of the handy antidotes and distractions that we’ve come to know and love such as food, the Internet, TV, music, buying unnecessary crap and, if lucky, sex, but they all proved to be momentary bliss that inexorably wore off like Novocain. There’s no amount of sunshine that can fill the black hole when you’re sitting at the bottom of it.

Then I tried the opposite approach and embraced the sadness. I’d jump into the cold waters of the shadow sea while listening to Joni Mitchell, James Taylor and Radiohead and helplessly descend like a drowning man who has given up all hope. I’d just float there holding my breath and let the nothingness envelop me and wouldn’t come up for air until the darkness finally passed.

And that’s what I ultimately learned. That no matter what it was that triggered my malaise, the darkness always gave way to the light of a new morning.

Which is why I now do nothing at all. I just go about my business, thinking that this too shall pass, life goes on, the sun will come out tomorrow (I hate that song too!) and all of the other clichés that have turned out to be true. You can’t run away from days like this and you can’t hold on to it; you just have to accept it and go through it by living your life the best way you know how.

It feels like snow, but I don’t care. It’s time to go outside and face the day.

To Whom It May Concern

Only $1.00

Dear _____,

I know you’re out there. And you know you’re out there, too.

I don’t know what you look or sound like, but I do know that you remind me of someone I’ve met before or have seen in a movie or on the subway or at the airport or Yankee Stadium or in my dreams or, come to think of it, perhaps it was on Facebook.

I know that you’re nice and also good. And even though I don’t know what you look like, I can see this nice goodness (or good niceness) in your eyes and in your smile, and I’ve often felt your warm, faraway gaze upon me, particularly when I’m asleep and sometimes in the shower.

The way you look at me is the way that no one has ever looked at me before. It’s like you’re wearing a magical version of those X-ray Specs that used to be featured in Bazooka bubble gum and in the back of comic books, and you can see who I am and who I was and who I will be. And I can also see you in the exact same way. It’s like seeing each other naked without really being naked, although that will come later.

Simply put, we were meant to be. In Hebrew, it’s called “beshert” but that’s not to say that you will be Jewish. We are destined to be together and we’ve both known it since we were little children right out of a book by Haruki Murakami or Wes Anderson’s latest twee movie. I used to tell my mother about you and you grew more beautiful with each telling, and she said that we would find each other someday because that’s the way true love works, and then told me to shut up and go finish my homework. Maybe your mom told you to shut up, too!

You’re amazing, and no similes can do you justice because you’re incomparable, but I’ll give it a shot anyway. You are:

… as smart as lots of books (most of which I’ve read) combined into one big book.

… as sexy as Penélope Cruz applying deodorant first thing in the morning.

… as compassionate as thick, natural wool socks in a blizzard.

… as insightful as a four-year-old who has lived several past lives.

… as fearless as Gandhi, but without all the fasting.

… as kind as the fantasy mother in our daydreams about perfect moms who never tell you to shut up.

as sweet as candy to my soul, sweet you rock, and sweet you roll (thanks, Dave).

In other words, you are “the one” – although there are hundreds, maybe even thousands like you.

But you are the only one for me.

You’re either tall, short or medium. You have blonde, brunette, black, red or auburn hair, or maybe you wear a wig. You’re thin, average, curvy or full-figured. You’re white, black, Asian, Hispanic or other. You’re Jewish, Christian, Catholic, Islamic, Hindu, Buddhist, agnostic or atheist, anything but Mormon or Scientologist. You’re rich, poor or make a comfortable living. You have children, want children or were once a child yourself.

Most importantly – you love me and I love you.

Sincerely yours,


The Crying Game


If you haven’t noticed by now, I’m sort of a big pussy. Which is to say that I’ve been to known to cry on occasion.

A bunch of my friends like to goof on me about this, but that’s only because they’re even bigger pussies who are pretty much dead inside. Which is to say that they’re just regular guys.

I haven’t always been such a pussy (although I’ve always been big). In fact, one of the reasons I originally went into therapy 25 years ago was because I couldn’t cry. Men didn’t squirt, I learned from my father, who was sort of a dick. Which is to say that I inherited my pussy-osity from my mom.

Although she was the one I couldn’t cry for. I didn’t shed a tear when she died and thought I was also just being a regular guy at the time, keeping my emotions bottled up, but the truth was that I was petrified to feel the excruciating pain of her loss. Hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars later, the floodgates finally opened up and have never fully closed.

I cry when I’m happy. I cry when I’m sad. I cry when I’m scared. I cry when I’m relieved. I cry when I’m alone. I cry when I’m with women. In fact, women have always been able to make me cry and once or twice, it was even for joy.

My kids, of course, still lead the league in the crying game. It’s a happy cry these days like when they say, “I love you, Dad.” I’ve also cried with them when things weren’t so happy. One of the things I’ve learned over the years is that the people in your heart will make you cry — that’s just the way it works.

Music and movies will also flip the switch, especially when you’ve just found out that you don’t have cancer. I mentioned Kendrick Lamar yesterday and was listening to a Steely Dan playlist last night and totally lost it when I heard these classic lines from “Deacon Blues”:

I cried when I wrote this song

Sue me if I play too long

This brother is free

I’ll be what I want to be

It’s one of my favorite songs and I’ve heard it thousands of times and have never cried once before. How do I explain it? Two words and the first is “big.”

That’s not even the worst of it. The worst of it was when I was watching We Bought a Zoo last night. It’s certainly not Cameron Crowe’s best work, and it also wasn’t Scarlett who made me blubber like a little girl (and why are little girls the go-to metaphor for crying?). There’s one scene where Matt Damon is sitting on the kitchen floor while looking at photos of his dead wife on his laptop that completely set off my sprinkler system. And the ending when he finally takes his children to the place where he first met their beautiful, beloved mother, and Sigur Rós is playing in the background … um, excuse me, I need a moment.

I guess I’ve always been in touch with my feminine side (read: BP), you know, the whole sensitive writer bit, and I’ve always been pretty good at conveying my emotions with words, but sometimes there’s just nothing that compares to a good long cry (and attention all women reading this: I know that you know this well).

And no, Ralph, I don’t have my period.

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