Friday, June 14, 2024

Check, Please

I put my card in the little tray they give you with the receipt in it and space out looking around this cute Chinese restaurant. The neon characters in the window are rainbow hued, but individually, like one’s blue, one’s red, one’s orange - you get it.

A guy comes up with one of those hand held devices to run my card, and as he picks up my card I see that he has two thumbs on his one hand, one on top of the other, next to four normal fingers, and each of his thumbs has a perfect, immaculately manicured nail. 

I am a man of the world, so I don’t stare or react in any way whatsoever, because that would be rude, and unkind, but I will admit to you, dear reader, that I did take a moment, internally, and confirm to myself that I was not in fact hallucinating, because for just a second that seemed, not just possible, but likely.

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

I’m Not Picky

The house manager of the Broadway show we’re attending has taken a shine to us, and after the show ends finds us to say goodbye. 

We joke about the wood-fire pizza places in Brooklyn Katie recommended, and then he gives us each a hug before we leave. 

Seeing the cane I’ve been walking with, after hugging me he fixes me with an intense look, and grabbing my shoulder with his bony hand, says, “Be whole and healed, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

I take a beat to process this, then, with a smile, say, “Hey, I’ll take whatever help I can get!"

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Tuppence A Bag

On the weekends, Grand Army Plaza at the north end of Prospect Park fills with white tents for the greenmarket, like mushrooms that appear after a storm. They make a miniature city, with little streets that fill up with shoppers and their dogs, their bikes, their strollers, all milling about, buying apples and cheese and bread and cabbages, arms full of flowers and potted plants.

Today, though, walking through the plaza on my way to the library, the plaza is empty, a vast expanse up the sky, criss-crossed by bicyclists streaking through the void, with a lone woman down by Eastern Parkway feeding a mob of pigeons.

The pigeons revolve around her, like worshipers around a shrine, or groupies around a pop star, circling as a single organism, parts of them breaking off and rousing up in a flurry of wings to settle on her shoulders and outstretched arms before diving back to the ground where she scatters sheets of seed for them to eat, and as I walk past I avert my eyes, somehow embarrassed by this naked display of adoration, the birds for the food, the woman for the birds. 

Monday, June 10, 2024

Matthew 5:41

“You have to seek out the thing that makes you tired,” my mother tells me over the phone, “and just keep doing it.”

“Yes, I get it.”

“If you have one set of stairs to go up, you go up them twice. That’s how I’ve managed to live so long."

Sunday, June 9, 2024

If Music Be The Food...

 “Oooh, who’s this?” Katie asks as the music curls from the kitchen speakers like the scent of onions and garlic cooking in the pan, drums popping, horns all spicy. The fried rice she’s making sizzles like high-hat cymbals, umami like bass.

I do a half-assed quick-stepping dance across the tiles, then perch on the stool, phone in hand. “Buena Vista Social Club,” I say proudly, checking the playlist. 

Saturday, June 8, 2024

A Different Kind of Joy

You take the bag, that’s what it essentially is - a big, impermeable bag - and you run with it, holding it open to the wind you’re creating by running, until it fills up, and then you kind of twist it closed with this buckle thing, and you end up with what looks like an enormous split top hot dog bun, only you are the hot dog, and the bun is a remarkably comfortable couch/hammock kind of thing. 

Katie bought one of these magical treasures today and brought it to the park, and after she tried it out, she let me have a go, and let me tell you, it was worth looking like a big ol’ dork running with this bag-thing  to lie down on a literal pillow made of air and textile science.

When I was young, I felt my epiphanies in my gut, right below the solar plexus, with this sort of crazy, wild energy that would shoot through my stomach and down into my crotch, and it was half-way between lust and rage, and it would feel good but also kind of scary.

Today I lay in the Hot Dog Bun Of Perpetual Indulgence and I swear to you, as the tension left my body and I relaxed into the warm Brooklyn afternoon, I felt my heart open up with joy and something like love, and thought “Ah, I am no longer a young man."

Trash Day

My knee hurts, my hip hurts, and I’m tired, but the garbage needs to go out.

Walking down the stairs is just as hard as walking up, so I grip the handrail with each step, the recycling in my other hand. 

I look at the stairwell down to the front door, and I’m struck by the idea that I am alive, in this moment, and pain is part of this moment, and so too is the satisfaction of just moving through air, being in a building, the cool air outside, the satisfying thump of the door being pulled to, the trash bagged by the curb, the cop car with its flashing lights slowly following the ambulance down the street toward the hospital, in no hurry with whomever might be inside, and on and on and on, the entire world surrounding me and my tiny little body, every part touching every other part, all the way out into space.

I remind myself to take Advil when I get upstairs, and then forget again as soon as I go back inside.