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Hand-Eye Coordination

I work the early shift. I wake up at 5 a.m., am in a car to the office by 5:15, at my desk with both hands on the keyboard and a mic at my mouth by 5:45, and I leave promptly at 2 p.m. This allows me more afternoon flexibility than the normal working New Yorker, though my evenings in da club have been severely curtailed.

This afternoon, instead of going to yoga as I normally would, I decided to get a manicure. And a pedicure. And a ten-minute massage in one of those cushy chairs with the rotating iron fist behind the leather.

It was a pleasure made sweeter by the fact that everyone else was on their way to or from a meeting. There’s a line in a fine movie, Priceless, where Audrey Tautou says to her beau, “I love drinking in the afternoon. It’s like you’re keeping a secret.” That’s how I felt.

As I was rubbed and scrubbed, I couldn’t help noticing (as I always do) the sense of surprise when someone touches my hand. I believe that hands are the window to the soul. (I’ve never bought into that whole eye thing. My main complaint is that the eyeball itself can convey very little. The pupil can dilate, which expresses either “I’m on cocaine” or “I’ve just seen the doctor.” It seems to me that most expressiveness is really from the eyelids or the upper cheeks. Anyway, I’ve never met someone and seen more in their eyes than color.)

We touch many things with our hands each day, including each other. But it’s a rare instance when another hand directly touches ours in a non-romantic setting. And when it does happen, the mind is brought back from its wanderings in an instant. Shaking hands takes only the briefest of moments, but think how much stock we put into the exchange. There’s something intimate about it. I think I developed this idea in high school.

Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting

I’m not a big Shakespeare fan, though I appreciate his contribution. (Perhaps this is because I just don’t like the word ‘bard.’ It sounds to me like someone vomiting.) But one thing we agree on is the power of the hand.

I was in ninth-grade English class when I first saw Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting in Romeo and Juliet. And with them, I was able to transcend the snoring around me and do exactly what I was supposed to do. Despite the grainy film. Despite the sounds of other teenagers shuffling by the open classroom door, slouching towards detention (our own Bethlehem, in a way). I shall never forget their ‘holy palmers’ kiss.’

I suspect the other contribution to my theory is my mother. When pressed to list her favorite things about my father, says she knew he was a good man because she liked his hands.

And he’s never even been to get a manicure. He has no idea about the massaging chairs.

Olivia Hussey

Where a Man Goes to Become a Gentleman

Fashion and I intersect at the crossroads of “I half-wish that I could do that, but haven’t got the interest, the money or the time to really try it, though maybe I ought to wear more belted dresses.” I do, however, love fashion photography, particularly the old Hollywood glamor shots and some of the more contemporary underwater photos, but my interest peaks there. And here, at a fashion blog run by Scott Schuman called The Sartorialist.

In one of his recent posts, Schuman describes a store in Brussels full of canes, cufflinks, fedoras and all manner of high-class (if somewhat forgotten) male fashion paraphernalia. He describes it as “the kind of store where a man goes to become a gentleman.”

That got me thinking… where would a woman go? (Not where would she go to become a gentleman, but the rough equivalent of a cane-and-suspenders store. Ahem.)

When I started this blog, I made a conscious effort to avoid topics that would prompt comparisons to Carrie Bradshaw, the fictional sex columnist/protagonist in HBO’s Sex and the City. Sex made up a large part of what Carrie discussed, and I doubt we’d intersect there. (Ever since Paul Theroux said, “There’s a lot of self-revelation in the way a writer describes sex,” I’ve been terrified to try it. I do not want to self-revelate in that manner.) Many of Carrie’s musings could overlap with mine, though. She talked about making her way as a writer in New York, balancing passions with necessities, understanding herself enough to know when things were right and when they were wrong.

For instance. There’s a scene in one episode where her toilet breaks and she struggles to fix it. Her boyfriend ultimately rescues her, a poignant moment because it’s the last thing he does before they break up. I was reminded of this scene today as I struggled to put two air conditioners into my apartment windows. I finished the task with two stubbed toes, sweat drops on my glasses, one trembling tricep and a stream of curses. Would I have liked a man to do all that for me? Sure, but what I would have liked more was another pair of hands, just to help. As a modern woman, it doesn’t have to be all-by-yourself or doublemint twins. There is a middle ground. It’s right where the window comes down onto the top of the AC box.

I saw a media screening of the new Sex and the City movie last week. I described it afterward as “offensive, shrieky and trite — with cute hats.” I won’t get too involved in reviewing (not getting involved being the most SATC thing I could do), but I will say the characters felt like shadows of their former selves. The four women in this movie were stick figures compared to the Rubenesque goddesses they used to be. Their situations, dialogue and problems were lacking in zest and intrigue. (Not sex, you might note.)

It’s as if the writers forgot the character’s depth. Or maybe the girls lost their way to the shop where they became women. I wish they hadn’t, because now I’ll have to find the way on my own.