Saturday, February 22, 2020

Dopamine

The woman across from me on the train sits hunched over the scratch-off lottery ticket, carefully picking and choosing which spaces to uncover.

The card has been designed to tap into the ancient part of our brain that loves to scrabble at the earth to reveal buried food, the part of our nervous system that doles out a small dopamine rush every time we accomplish something, even if that task is essentially random and almost certainly pointless.

I turn away to push some buttons on my phone.

When I look back, we’re crossing the bridge, the ticket is crumpled up in her hand, and she’s looking pensively out the window at the cold blue sky, the city looming into view, the river rolling beneath us, or maybe nothing at all.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Church Wedding

Katie and I married twice, first in Manhattan at a wedding venue and then in Brooklyn in a Catholic church, the church wedding being mostly for the benefit of her side of the family, including a couple of dead relatives who may have had opinions about the whole affair.

Today, we went looking for our wedding certificate to prove to our health insurance company that she could be on my benefits, and we found both the Manhattan and the Brooklyn one.

When I asked which we should use, Katie said, “The first one! The second one was just to keep the ghosts at bay."


Wednesday, February 19, 2020

New Smells

The dog in the backpack is doing pretty well, all things considered. He doesn't seem to mind the crowded subway car, or the slightly awkward way in which he has to hold his paws because of the angle of the backpack, and his soft brown eyes gaze on we commuters without judgement or alarm, even as the patch on the backpack that holds him ("PLEASE ASK TO PET') hints at issues with people in the past.

When I pull my yerba mate tea out of my bag and pop off the lid of my cup, he lifts his head and begins to strain his head this way and that in an attempt to look over his shoulder to see where this unusual smell might be coming from. "It's possible he's never smelled this before," I tell his owner, and she agrees.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Greetings

The news of the death of a friend of ours shocks Katie and me pretty badly, so when I leave to walk to the drugstore down the block, Katie asks me to be particularly careful, particularly since an app she follows on her phone warned her of fighting and police activity a few blocks from the store.

The street is mostly quiet tonight, though, and even though there's no one around, I find myself examining the trash waiting for pickup on the curb, wondering if I can pull something from it to use as a weapon in the event of confrontation.

The drugstore is a strange oasis of fluorescent lights in the foggy darkness, and I quickly find the items I came for and check out with a young man who stands behind the counter with a blank expression and downcast eyes. 

"How you doing, man?" I ask, hoping for some sort of human contact, and he looks up to meet my gaze, and I am blessed by his smile.

King For A Day

"I'm just worried," she says, examining the loafers she's wearing in her reflection with concern, "that these shoes might be a little too Louis the Sixteenth."

"I think the heels would have to be higher for these to be anything but a Sun King kinda deal," I reply flippantly, and she turns and just sort of looks at me. Realizing I may have gone a little over everybody's head, I quickly add, "Not that I know anything about French Regencies or whatever!"

"No, that's right, I was just marveling at what you did there," she says with a smile.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Names Are Important

The man lounges on the couch while on his lap, back paws on the man's stomach, forepaws on the mans crossed leg, stands a small white and russet colored dog. The dog's ears are erect and alert, and he scans the sales floor with a look of ownership and concern while standing utterly still.

I compliment the man on his excellent dog, and add, "They're really making chihuahuas awesome these days."

"He's a rat terrier," the man informs me with a withering look.

Honesty

"How you feelin'?" my friend at work asks during a short pause in the rush.

"Honestly, man, I'm a little worn out," I reply, and his face lights up.

"I'm glad to hear that!" he says, laughing. "You can't trust someone who says they feel great all the time."