the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Category: humor (Page 2 of 2)

Luck is Getting Three Chopsticks


Today, on the second day of my New York trip, I felt my luck changing.  Why?  Because we went out for sushi and when I opened my package of wooden chopsticks, there were three individual chopsticks inside.  Now getting three chopsticks seems as useless as three shoelaces in one package, but the waitress said that in her seven years of waitressing, she never saw this happen before, and said it was “for good luck.”

It is important to work hard and take chances, but let’s be honest with ourselves — there’s a lot of luck involved in life.    Sometimes, we just find ourselves in the right place at the right time.  I know there are some of you that think that everything is dependent on some “secret” or that God actually cares if you win the big game, but that’s insulting to the important concept of “LUCK.” 

Getting three chopsticks is pure luck. 

Unlucky is paying fifty bucks to take a romantic buggy ride through Central Park and getting stuck with a driver who spends the whole trip gossiping on her phone with her girlfriend from Brooklyn. 


Unlucky is getting a modeling job where you have to sit around Rockefeller Center in your underwear… in late December.


Unlucky is coming to New York to take a photo of your family in front of the “big tree,” not realizing that 1000 other families are also there, blocking your view.


We had a nice day, so we were lucky.










Feeling a Little Blue

Sophia, Flushing

I enjoy getting comments which read “Oh, Neil, that was so funny. You made me morning.” I like them so much, I hate bringing up times when I’m feeling a little down. I’ve only been in New York for one day, and while I should be absolutely joyous, I’m feeling sort of blue. I’m not sure if it is the bleak sky, the cold, or just missing therapy this week. Even seeing my Mom and eating the perfect bagels hasn’t broken me out of the rut.

Bagels, Flushing

My screenplay pitch is still on the backburner while the writer’s strike continues. It is hard convincing yourself that you have the “greatest comedy story ever written” for more than a month before you start having doubts. There are a couple of big expense concerns coming up, and thinking about money makes me anxious.

On Monday, at LAX, we had a hour to kill before our flight, so I watched travelers running around, catching fights. It is big world out there, with so many countries and cities I want to see. Will I get to visit everywhere I want? Will I have the time? The money? Today, I found my old stamp collection in my closet. I had organized all of my international stamps into little envelopes titled France, India, Madagascar, etc. I must have been around ten years old. Some of the countries on the list, mostly African ones, don’t even exist anymore! I’m sure I dreamed of traveling to all of these places one day. Now, I’m less sure of myself. Maybe I won’t ever get to Madagascar after all! And that would be sad. Time is moving too fast.

Time also plays games with the mind. Although my mother had done a great job in redecorating the apartment in the last year, the memory of my father is still strong. Everywhere you look, there is a part of him, from his collection of slides he took in the army or massive collection of ties. His essence is here. While it is nice that his presence is felt, it is sad that he is not here in person.

A familiar view from my old room while lying on the bed

I’m glad Sophia came along to New York. She’s always fun (except for the traveling by plane part where she brings too much luggage). Still, we are theoretically moving closer to the date when I will move out of the house. We both think it would be good to take a break and have some alone time. My therapist didn’t even think it was a good idea to travel to New York together, but what fun would it be without her? Sophia is sleeping right now, and I’m feeling all sorts of emotional ups and downs about our future.


The confusion over our relationship has created problems for my sex life and my dreams are becoming more anxiety-ridden by the day. Last night, I combined all my fears about writing, Hollywood, and sex in to one big stew of bizarre dreaming:

In the dream, I had just spoken to this movie producer on the phone. The writer’s guild strike was still going on, so my pitch was postponed again. I needed to quickly make more money, so I looked in the newspaper. I ended up getting a job with a CSI crime unit. I was hired to be a special “closer.” My daily assignment: I would go down on a female suspect, and from her taste, I would learn all these facts about her. “She’s 32, runs two miles a day, and loves Cheerios,” I would say to the police captain as I lifted my head up from between her thighs. “She’s a graduate of Princeton with a B.A. in Religion and she is lying about hitting her husband over the head with that baseball bat.” My authority was never questioned and this Princeton religious studies graduate was thrown in jail for committing murder. Rather than feeling good about myself, I fretted about my “interrogation.” I had the nagging feeling that I tasted her incorrectly and put the wrong woman behind bars.

After this dream, I woke up with a terrible headache. And now there’s two more weeks without therapy! God help us all.

Tomorrow, we’re going to MOCA, and maybe meeting Tamar of Mining Nuggets for coffee (that is if she’s not afraid of me after hearing about my dream). Email me if you live in New York and know of some cool things going on or restaurants that you love.

Off to Visit Mom


How many suitcases are we bringing to New York?  (Remember, Sophia is coming with me.  And she is a woman.  A woman with a lot of shoes.  A woman who isn’t sure what shoes to wear in the snow.  A woman who dragged me along for four hours shopping in department stores for boots, but ended up not liking anything.  Are Uggs waterproof?  What do YOU wear in the snow?)

The person who first guesses most accurately how many pieces of luggage we are bringing to New York for a two and a half week visit will win — get this — a $1000 dollar gift certificate from my favorite retailer,! (that is, not, you idiots).  Ha Ha Ha, I love when my own blog post makes me laugh.

Now, bring on the NY bagels!

The 99 Cent Shoelaces

Welcome, readers.  Today is another example of a post gone wrong.

To set up the story, we need to go back in time, back to a brisk morning many years ago in Queens, New York, when Neilochka was born.  After a few months of baby shoes, Neil’s mother bought him a pair of baby sneakers, and he was smitten with the smell and feel of this canvas footwear.  For years and years, whenever you looked at his feet, he was wearing a pair of sneakers… or nothing at all.

The year is now 2007.  For the last year and half, Neil has been wearing a size eleven New Balance 713.  He has been wearing these sneakers practically every single day.  They’re not the best sneakers, but he has grown attached to them. 

On Tuesday, Sophia and Neil are flying to New York to spend some time with Neil’s mother, Elaine, a good-natured woman with gray hair, known for her hearty laugh and her excellent brisket.   Sophia and Neil will be in New York for 2 1/2 weeks.  Whenever they travel to New York in the winter, there is always a bit of tension before they go.  Neil wants to know why Sophia needs to take so much luggage.  Sophia gets worried about being cold in the street, but hot in the over-heated New York stores and subways.  Remember, they are both wimpy Californians.  It is an “effort” for them to walk a block to the supermarket, especially if there is a forecast for a drizzle. Scary!

As Neil and Sophia packed their gloves and hats and scarfs and turtlenecks, Sophia looked at Neil’s New Balance 713s and said, “Those sneakers look like shit.”

“No, they don’t.” Neil said in protest.  “They’re just a little lived-in.”

“The white shoelaces are all black, and they are shredded.”

That was true.

“Simple.” said Neil “I’ll go to the 99 Cent Only Store and buy some new shoelaces.”

Of he went to the 99 Cent Store.  He could have gone to Macy’s or Target, like Sophia told him to, or countless other stores, but as a man who loves a bargain, why pay more than 99 cents for white shoelaces?

Neil quickly found the shoelaces in aisle five of the 99 cent store, next to the polyester dress socks.  There were two displays of “Athletic” shoelaces.   One display consisted of packages of white athletic shoelaces.  The other, of the same “Coachman” brand,  was identical, except for the addition of a special “bonus pack.”  Along with the pair of white shoelaces, this package included ONE wrapped black shoelace.

I’ve already mentioned that Neil liked a bargain.  Why would he buy the first package, when he could get the “bonus pack” for free?

As he drove home, he started to chuckle.  Something struck him as very very funny about these black shoelaces.  He laughed as hard as he did when he found the typo in the New Yorker.  When Sophia met him at the door, he was still laughing.

“What’s so funny?” she asked.

“I have a great blog post for today.  Look at this.” he said.  He opened the 99 Cent Store bag and showed her the shoelace package.  “They give you a pair of white shoelaces, and then they throw in an extra bonus of a black shoelace.  But think about it.  What the hell are you supposed to do with ONE black shoelace?  Just tie one shoe?  Ha Ha Ha!”


Neil explained how he went back and bought another package of the shoelaces, just so he could have a pair of black shoelaces.  Still laughing, he ran upstairs and hunched over the keyboard, pounding out his latest humor masterpiece, wondering how many women will fantasize about having sex with him after they read his latest hilarious post about the bizarre package with one black shoelace.

Sophia entered.

“Whatever it is, not now.” Neil said.  “I’m in the groove.”

“Maybe you should ungroove for a second because I opened the package — and you were wrong.   It isn’t a pair of white shoelaces and one black shoelace.  It is two pairs of very poor quality white shoelaces and one pair of equally bad black shoelaces.  There are TWO black shoelaces, not one.  You’re such a dumbbell”.

“Oh.”  he said, Neil’s spirit falling like a weight.  “So that means my whole blog post is dead.”

“Well,  you could lie.”

“Lie?  On a blog?  Never?  Would Dooce lie?  Of course not!”

“Well then, I guess you need to come up with something else.”

Neil struggled for a while, but couldn’t come up with anything quite as good as the hilarious tale of the single black shoelace.  He procrastinated and found some busywork.  Neil even decided to lace up his New Balance 713s with the new white shoelaces.   As you can see, not only were the 99 cent shoelaces of poor quality, but Neil screwed up in another way — they were shoelaces for CHILDREN, and barely laced half of the sneaker.


Neil didn’t really find this turn of events very funny.  In fact, he thought it was quite sad.  Since he bought two packages of the shoelaces, he now had six pairs of useless shoelaces, four pairs of white and two pairs of black ones.  Still, a blog post is a blog post, and this is what he was stuck with. 

Communication Through the Ages


I usually work on my desktop in my upstairs office. Sophia works on her laptop in the downstairs living room in front of the TV. How do we communicate from such a distance? The medium keeps changing, but the message stays the same.

2003 —

Sophia (screaming at the top of her lungs, as if she was Alice on the Honeymooners): “Neil, did you throw out the garbage yet?!”

2005 —

Sophia (typing on Yahoo Internet Messenger, interrupting my blog reading): “Neil, did you throw out the garbage yet?!”

2007 —

Sophia (ringing me on Skype, interrupting my blog reading): “Neil, did you throw out the garbage yet?!”

A Year Ago on Citizen of the Month: Tis the Season for More Male Insecurity

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