Friday, March 30, 2007

What's a quirk, and what's intolerable?

An episode of Seinfeld focused on the totally shallow reasons why some people choose to end relationships. You know, things like "he picks the green marshmallows out of the Lucky Charms and leaves the rest," or "she doesn't know the theme song from The Brady Bunch." A story in today's New York Times offered another dimension: being repulsed by the stuff your prospective honey may have in his apartment or home that is slightly scary, like a real stuffed seal or a set of aged and fading cartoon print bedsheets. Someone who's downright attractive on paper suddenly looks like a freak.

I found this article very timely, as I recently started dating someone who warned me, before I went to his home, that his place doesn't reflect "him." He'd moved there really quickly for family reasons and thus didn't want to be judged or assessed by it. Well, the place seemed perfectly reasonable to me, but somehow it seemed to make him feel uncomfortable.

To me, this was ironic. What he didn't realize was that since date one, said date has truly been testing my own shallow criteria. Great guy, but wrong favorite ball team, wrong vehicle, wrong music, wrong pre-sets on the car stereo, you name it. I keep wondering when I'm going to totally lose it and go off on him for all of these things that don't really matter.

I have been trying really hard not to blow off potential relationships due to surface stuff. Maybe I've been much too picky in the past, and focused on my own too-exacting standards, to notice that there are some pretty nice guys hiding behind those one or two minor shallow "flaws" I find so objectionable. I have no illusions that I would be able to wean someone off of an addiction to the early years of Full House, but maybe I could tolerate the obsession. At some point, you need to compromise, but somehow I can't seem to find the golden mean. How much must one person compromise?

In the interest of full disclosure, same date noted that I have three litter boxes in one room, for one cat, about three feet apart. I fully admit that it's quirky, but not any more so than my rubber duckies, is it?

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Somehow I don't think this is what they intended.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

The deconstruction of Asbury Park

They've started the "renovation" of one of the iconic structures on the Asbury Park boardwalk: the Casino.

Shellpile readers will remember a post last summer where I described my experience walking into the small bit of the Casino which was open to foot traffic. It was a corridor linking the Asbury Park boardwalk to the neighboring town of Ocean Grove, and it offered just an indication of a building that had sat idle for close to 20 years. The portion of the building that stood over the beach was decrepit and inaccessible; trees growing inside the building could be seen through the broken windows and holes in the roof.

Now, that expanse over the beach is no more than a pile of milled rubble. The eeriness of the structure has dissipated in the brisk ocean winds of late winter. And the sound of demolition equipment surrounds the area; it's the most activity that particular bit of beach has seen in quite some time.

Though the building is partitioned away by temporary fencing, I could see into the corridor I'd walked through last summer. The sign for the Casino Skating Palace is gone; with any luck it's being preserved along with an old chandelier they found in the building. I wonder where the ghosts have gone -- the screams from the haunted house, the laughter from the roller rink, the clandestine pleading from the Tunnel of Love.

Last I heard, the people who bought the Casino are rebuilding it to look exactly as it looked in its heyday. They'd wanted to preserve the structure but found it was unsound. Allegedly they are working to keep as much standing as possible, but I don't know. Those things tend to stray from plan, especially in New Jersey, where they take every renovation project as an opportunity to tear down what's there and replace it with McMansions. I guess we'll see.

Asbury Park Casino: May 6, 2006

Asbury Park Casino: March 10, 2007