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It’s time for the Holidays. The special time of year where we sit down to celebrate gluttony, family dysfunction, consumerism AND the very best time to pry secrets out of your drunk family!

For instance three holidays seasons ago, I asked my mother, who I remember distinctly was holding a mug of Chardonnay with an ice cube in it, why she had decided to have another child after having two basically  sufficient ones 15 years before…she laughed, telling me something along the lines of, “Oh honey, you weren’t expected! I was 40 with one ovary! But the good news is that we kept you, and you ended up being the best mistake I ever made.” This, as you can imagine, left me feeling extra medium.

This is also the time when most of us return home, back to the scene of our early sexual crimes, strolling through the bone-ridden graveyard of our first romantic loves. Due to my recent rewatching of Bridget Jones’ Diary, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it is about returning home for the holidays that makes most of us crawl back inside the primordial, amniotic sack of insecurity, self-doubt, and angst that plagued us throughout our teenage years. I’m positive that it’s these regurgitated feelings that cause us to seek out sexual validation with peoples whose private parts you normally wouldn’t touch now, even if they were covered in money.

The catalyst to all these holiday hijinks usually begins with Dionysus levels of wine. Alcohol is usually the cause and solution to all of our problems and has this uncanny ability to contort reality and fill your usually rational brain with idealized memories of when you were younger, smarter, thinner and perkier. It helps you romanticize your past, fondly painting a portrait of a time where your future was limitless. A time that seemed to have unlimited doors open, mostly to the back seat of whatever hot-guy car was in fashion at the time (Wrangler, Saab convertible, Bronco 2, perhaps a vintage LandRover), where a boy that looked hopefully looked like Jared Leto would be waiting to give you a gynecological exam with about as much skill as a Cro Magnon Man trying to use an iPhone X.

Ultimately, we all know the point of seeing people from your past is to have a Romy and Michelle moment where you strut in, in a lame dress made out material that could have been used on the Hubble telescope and blow everyone away with your next level success.

But the moment you open Pandora’s Box of your hook-up past, you lose all the street cred you’ve been building with your perfect, Brita’d, social media life.  Isn’t the whole point of crafting such an elegant version of yourself online that all your exes can see how far above them you are now? Well, that won’t work if you’re acting like a world hot dog eating champion at the penis buffet of your past.

Remember kids, Dr. Nightingale’s golden rule, always FUCK UP. If you’re going to share your sacred Yoni with another human, fuck right on up. Jefferson that shit, finally get your piece of the pie. Looking back usually does nothing more than leave you a pillar of salt and is the ultimate expression of basicness. Everyone knows only basic bitches need to recycle semen.

Here are my proven, kid tested, mother approved methods of avoiding hooking up with an ex over the Holidays:

  • Let the hair on your legs grow out so far you look like an extra from planet of the apes
  • If you’re a cheap degenerate gambler like me, no better way to avoid hooking up with a Monet-like ex than betting someone 50 bucks that you won’t. Put yo money where your mouth should not be.
  • Wear your most superfund worthy underpants. Underpants that could have been used as an example of the cleaning power of dawn dish soap commercials after the Exxon Valdez spilled.
  • Gain so much weight the whole year before Thanksgiving that people confuse you with an emotional support pig. (Lipstick won’t help you)
  • Roofie yourself, by putting a small amount of Rohypnol in your glass of wine right after you finish the pie course. Tuck yourself in and let less wise people make all the mistakes and get all the herpes. NOT YOU! You’re asleep.
  • Don’t be boring. Most of the stupid things I do come out of drinking + boredom. Try a 1000 piece abstract art grayscale puzzle with your family members who have visible cataracts.
  • Buy some yarn and those large pick up sticks and watch youtube tutorials of obnoxious twenty-somethings, with Herbal Essence commercial-worthy hair, with excessive orthodontia, and trick yourself into thinking you too could create a cable knit sweater instead of going out and getting into trouble. Just be aware what you will create will look a lot like something your dog vomits up when she gets into the trash
  • Buy a new vibrator, a really expensive one with Bluetooth technology so advanced aliens from Magrathea can connect to it from space. A vibrator with so many settings you need a degree from MIT to work it.  A vibrator that requires so much energy that you’ll have to connect it to a nuclear reactor in order to power it. As soon as dinner ends get in bed, and go to town on your v like you’re a road worker who has to jackhammer through cement.
  • Remember that you didn’t cum then, and you’re not going to cum now. I mean that. I used to hook up with my ex from high school almost every year for five years after we broke up during the holidays and literally every single time we would both lay in the bed staring at the ceiling repeatedly muttering to the other that this is not representative of the sexual gods we had become since separating. Except for one measly time where he actually made me cum and he did like a Super Bowl Sunday touchdown dance and then would send me spontaneous messages about it for the next ten years. Ugh.
  • This is a crazy one. Just say no….to the ho. Try to have some self-control for once. Not like the kind of self control when you walk past the donut factory in Chelsea and you’re like..I have two options, I could A) motorboat the entire display case, eating so many donuts that Oompa Loompas will magically appear singing a sarcastic lymeric like, “what do you get when you have no control? Body resembling a Krispee Kreme troll?” Eventually rolling your inflated body home in shame… OR option B) I could just not eat them and keep walking…and I know what you’re thinking….There is literally only one viable option here. Because you will ALWAYS eat the donuts and get rolled home by Oompas, so nevermind you pathetic lard-filled donut graveyard…you’re getting fucked….Just wear a condom at least.
  • Have your mouth wired shut temporarily by your dentist
  • Chastity belt! Do they have this on amazon prime? Cuz if not, that’s a great business idea. LOCK THAT SHIT UP. This is probably the only one of my suggestions that would work
  • Get a makeup artist to airbrush or paint weird semi-permanent (henna moment!) sores and marks on your v so you’ll be too embarrassed for anyone to see it. I’d love to see some Youtube vlogger do a DIY tutorial about that!
  • Shave all your pubic hair without shaving cream with an old rusty Bic razor you find in the corner of your gym. If your genitals are covered in razor burn so bad it looks like you have a disease from the 15th century, I doubt you’re gonna show them to anyone.

If you’re single and you’re reading this and you’re thinking to yourself:  Listen Zoe, I just need to feel the weight of another person on top of me so I can feel anything other than the crushing weight of the world’s collective loneliness. What does it matter if I hook up with a ghost from my past?

Just trust me, even if you’ve been jerking off so much it looks like you’ve been lifting weights on the pads of your fingers. Even if the last time you went on a date Obama had hope…it’s not an excuse to drown your sorrows in the semen of guys who were the Patient Zero for all your fucked up neuroses about love, sex, and relationships in the first place. So stay strong young Jedi, may the force be with you.

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Babies, Marriage and Couples Cranium

My name is Zoe Nightingale, and I was born into a world of shoulder pads and stirrup pants. I am a genuine product of the 80s. People keep calling me a “millennial,” but all I know is that I didn’t have a cell phone at 8 years old. My apple computer looked like Mars landing equipment and I grew up loving glow worms, Billy Idol and jewel-bellied Troll dolls. If that makes me part of the most useless generation of humans ever created, so be it.

I have always been different. I’ve always been the fly in my family’s ointment. While they love me unconditionally, they’ve never really understood what the deviled egg I was wearing, saying, or doing. My resistance to getting a “real job”. My failure to get a Masters. My insistence on spending my life traveling like dandelion fluff in the wind. My inability to save or plan for the future. While they have always supported me they have also relentlessly questioned my motives and insisted I have some sort of master plan. Whenever I would tell them about my newest business venture or travel plans, they rolled their eyes and quietly muttered old yiddish expressions under their breath.

Suffice it to say I’ve been chasing giggles, slaughtering dance floors, and acting like a wet gremlin at 1AM for the last 30 years.  I’ve been Run, Lola Running from responsibility. Playing a global game of hide and go seek with pain. I have never liked pain. Instead of learning healthy ways to sit and hold space for it, I douse it in alcohol, smoke things to make it fuzzy, or stuff it down with different combinations of gluten and sugar (YUM!). But there comes a point where all the pain finally finds you. When all of the things you’ve been running from your entire life come to a head and force you to face your amorphous fear of change. It’s taken almost everything I have to quell the tiny beast that roars inside and behave like some semblance of an adult.

Now, I’m stuck, living in a limbo like oasis of my thirties. I know my “youth” is over, but I’m still going to need Paul Revere himself to gallop over with a paper that says “soon thy brunches shall come with highchairs” in order to believe it. The most practical, mother approved, and predictable next step would be to finally commit to a romantic life-long adult relationship. Yet as I watch those around me voluntarily march down the road most travelled my feelings towards marriage and procreation have not changed; I avoid them like midtown Manhattan during Christmas. I know that there are many wonderfully happy couples who have found ways to use marriage to grow, learn, and get that fancy juicer they’ve always wanted. I, however, would rather have sex with a chainsaw. To put it more kindly, “the institution” just simply isn’t my brew of matcha. Understand that I have had great love in my life, I just never understood why I had to put shackles around it.

I know I run the risk of actually becoming a discount bin version of Sarah Jessica Parker, wistfully waxing poetic about the wonders of being a single gal in New York City. Except I’m aware that she only made it look cool because she had $40,000 in stilettos and a sexy rent-controlled brownstone.

I’m pretty sure that won’t happen. I still live in Williamsburg with roommates, in a hamster cage with less closet space than John Malkovich’s head. Another thing that separates me from the pretend world of sassy single-hood is that instead of choosing which designer frock I want to wear, my closet is mostly full of clothes that I refer to lovingly as “the way we were” or “yeah right” for short.  This problem is compounded by my Jewey Lewis and The News mentality of never throwing anything out that doesn’t have mice actively living inside it. Also, there’s my Ozymandias-like insistence that one day I’ll have a Bridget Jones moment, throw all my sins in a garbage bin and obsessively go to SoulCycle classes (whatever the hell that is) and finally fit into my club gear from ‘09. Sadly, I’ve come to the conclusion that unless I actually amputate a leg or ALL of my ribs magically disappear, Sarah Jessica Parker I will never be. So where does the last 10 years in New York leave me?

No savings, no investments, no property…no foundational anything. Is getting married the only way for me to actually grow up and create an infrastructure to support a meaningful life for my elder years? Is that the only way that people start paying their taxes on time and get credit cards with miles (my dream!)?

In classic short con, NYC thinking, I’ve spent my life building my community through collecting beautiful humans; cultivating what I thought would be life-long friendships with charismatic hooligans who I poured all of my love and energy into. But one by one they are vanishing like the Truffula Trees, leaving me, the sad little Lorax standing on the last stump wondering when everyone started paying mortgages instead of throwing 85 percent of their salary into a Hasidic black hole.

My best friend had a baby. She also made me a godmother?!! Hell hath frozen right over. What on earth I could possibly tell a child born during President Trump’s reign of terror? I can’t begin to imagine.  What is the point of building a foundation when I feel like Chicken Little preaching to the wind that the world as we know it is ending. All I want to do is get drunk and dance to Abba records alone in my underwear, in the apartment I can’t afford.

But it’s time to face my baseless fears of receiving paperless post invites to things like “Couples Cranium Night!” Cue drinking organic Pinot Grigio with couples in matching sweaters, the men’s genitals reduced to a G.I Joe mound, the women’s brains atrophied to the size of Barbies. Everyone pretending that this is what fun feels like. Meanwhile, the cool young people of tomorrow snort blow off midget trapeze artist’s dicks in an underground Bed Stuy carnival. To be fair, my NYC friends who are married, and have had kids are usually the first in line to snort misc. powder off of any surface, but my fear isn’t logical, it’s emotional and feels very real.

I realize I’m fucked either way. For some bizarre reason I have a deep jew-y genetic need to make my mother happy and she keeps bugging me to suck it up, join the parade, and say yes to the dress. She literally says, “just do it for me!”. I realize that even now, there’s still a lot I don’t know, but the one thing I do know is this. If I do go down, I’m going down in a peacock-colored Mardi Gras dress designed by a drag queen. But I think at this point my mom will take what she can get. Stay tuned.

 

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THE RESTAURANTS YOU NEED TO KNOW FOR DATE NIGHT

In our first installment of Zoe Recommends, our resident Sex+Love guru, Zoe Nightingale breaks down the best places for regular folks to take their dates when a meal is required. Note-taking encouraged, reservations required. 

Per Se

Per Se has a nine-course tasting menu of  sensual and decadent food. It is the perfect place if you’re dating a Patrick Bateman-Wall Street-finance-sociopath with an unlimited Amex and suits that cost more than your rent. It’s so expensive that whoever doesn’t pay for the meal will have to get down on their knees and take one for the team. Zoe recommends bringing French aristocrats with a “de” connecting their 3  names, Old Money Americans that used to own things like “The railroads” or “The banks”, men who are draped in gold and say things like “buy the whole island, what do I care,”  Swiss bankers and Canadians who were sent to boarding school in England.

Blue Hill

Blue Hill is so farm to table where you can taste the white privilege. Beautiful, simple food, heavily focused on the vegetables they grow in their upstate garden. So fresh at times you feel guilty for stealing food right out of Peter Cottontail’s mouth. Requires the GDP of Angola to pay the bill. This place is good if you’re on your fourth date and you still haven’t given it up and the guy is like a Pavlovian dog waiting with baited breath just to smell your clavicle.

Parma

Gorgeous, candle-lit white brick-walled masterpiece full of fresh pink roses and peonies – it’s exactly the kind of place you wanted to believe you’d be eating dinner at when you moved to NYC. (Instead of the dive pizza place where the owners have faces that look like a cat’s asshole.) This is for romance, and nothing more. Perfect when you’re dating passionate fiery creatures who say things like “your eyes in the moonlight, they are so beautiful.” Zoe recommends bringing tall, dark and handsome Europeans. If you’re in the mood to drink explosively delicious red wine and then spontaneously erupt into the Argentine Tango, this is the place for you.

Mas Farmhouse

Again, only advisable if you’ve recently found a pot of gold or stolen the wallet of your latest trick. Fancy, fancy, fancy, but goddamn is it delicious. This is a place for celebration and Tantric eye gazing over flickering light. This is for classy quieter types. As in, anyone whose ancestors lived on Viking ships eating smoked fish,  own “mid-century modern” wood furniture, have elevators open directly into their apartments, take Barre class and bring those little socks that look like they were stolen from a plane but were actually $18, or professors who have tenure at Columbia and have leather patches on their elbows.

Sunday in Brooklyn

Have you ever wanted to go somewhere where everyone is silently thinking to themselves, “do you have any idea who I think I am?” People so goddamn cool their clothing only comes in asymmetrical draped layers and oddly shaped hats. People who are such a caricature of hipsters that you think to yourself the end of the world is near because this couldn’t possibly be what the future generation looks like. Haircuts that look like Freddie Kruger put a bowl over their head and went to town? Then this is the place for you! $15 cocktails with things like bacon and fennel foam in them. The food is so good, and so weird, and so experimental it feels like a small mariachi band is playing in your mouth. I recommend this place ONLY for people who’ve moved to Brooklyn from Portland, who quote David Foster Wallace and still listen to They Might be Giants and Elliot Smith.

La Esquina Downstairs

Have you ever wanted to be so close to models that you can see the faint outlines of Casper The Friendly Ghost around their nostrils? Have you ever wanted to eat a $21 guacamole? Do you love standing on tables and showing off how much money you have? Hurray! This place is perfect. I recommend bringing models, wannabe actresses, webcam girls, old guys with gold watches, aging heiresses who only wear heels that could gouge out an eye, and anyone LGBTQ who says “fierce” too much

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Listen. It’s getting dark after lunch. There is no time. This is not a drill. Stopping, dropping, and rolling, will not help you. Winter has come, and the holidays are approaching. You need someone to wear matching reindeer onesies with so that your mother doesn’t think you’re going to die alone in an old shoe. Here are some patented ways to turn a first date into a hibernation buddy who can be your source of heat for the winter… 

 

Escape the Room

Do you ever think when you watch survivor that you too could solve puzzles? ‘How easy,’ you think it must be, as you sit naked on a bean bag chair, judging everyone and eating Cheetos that have fallen into your belly button. Well, now you can see how well you and your date would do if Armageddon happened tomorrow and you’d have to channel your inner Bruce Willis and solve actual problems. This is a brilliant way to see who really is the more intelligent of the two – which can be helpful when trying to find a significant other.  It’s loads of fun and located conveniently in the asshole of NYC, Midtown!

Aladdin Broadway

Now I know what you’re thinking: this is a Disney movie turned into a musical…lame. WRONG. If you’re a ‘millennial’ (which I think means that you base all of your romantic knowledge on Princess Bride and love dunkaroos…?) you will invariably know all the words to this and have the very best time singing along to one of Broadway’s most fun (although slightly racist) spectacles. Then when you go home and have sex, each of you can imagine you’re sleeping with Jasmine, Aladdin or for the more adventurous – Apu and Genie!

The Magician at the Nomad

The Nomad hotel is one of the last sexy boutique hotels in Chelsea. This perfectly sculpted interior has an actual indoor library (with beauty and the beast style ladders!) and some of the best drinks in the city. If you really think that your date has the possibility of making you vanquish your late night activities in favor of canoeing in central park or walking hand in hand through farmers markets arguing about which stall has the freshest goat cheese…then take them here. Tickets are IMPOSSIBLE to get and you have to book months in advance. Take them for dinner here and expect cupids arrow to lodge itself right between their ribs so deep that tiny red heart bubbles start pouring out of their mouth (sort of like romantic rabies!)

Storm King

Gonna need to rent a car or steal a minivan from a Hasid but this is the ULTIMATE date location. Located in gorgeous Hudson Valley, if you’re trying to really pull out all the stops and find someone to snuggle with all winter this is the place to go to trick them into thinking all your idiosyncrasies are cute instead of really annoying which is what they are. It is full of the kind of art that didn’t need to get made, but because it’s the size of a Goodyear blimp, its sheer scale makes it worthy of admiration. SO! Get a blanket, go buy some truffle cheese and fig paste and get three bottles of wine and get busy. This is also a supremely CHEAP date. So for all you cheap bastards out there trying to lasso up a woman who isn’t too much like OR unlike your mother, get out your marriage sack, draw up your prenup, and get on ova to Storm King.

The Water Table

This a place for people who say things like “I summer in Cape Cod” and love pretending oysters are an aphrodisiac instead of what they are which is expensive glorified snot balls and wearing shorts with endangered water mammals on it. Bonus points if you bring a coozie for your beer and crokies for your Oakleys.


Jane’s Carousel

You can’t get more romantic. Every little girl’s dream; a perfectly restored fantasy carousel that brings out the childish whimsy in even the bitterest rapidly aging New Yorkers. Also on the cheaper side. So get out your panic baskets, get a bottle of red wine and a blanket and get ready for some 7th grade make-out sessions.

In of Itself Broadway

One of the most beautifully mind-warping explorations of magic this little Hermione wannabe has ever seen. Right in the middle of Union Square, in the old Fuerza Bruta building, this wonderful night of magic and storytelling is not to be missed. Perfect for a Tinder date or coffee shop email exchange because you don’t even need to know their name or like their personality to enjoy this magical romp in the forest.