Wednesday, November 13, 2019

That’s Cold

“Even though I can’t be compelled to testify against you, even if you did something really awful, I wouldn’t rat you out,” I tell Katie as we walk home from the ramen place through the cold night. “Like even if you shot a baby.”

“No offense, but I’m pretty sure you would,” she replies.

“So how am I not supposed to take offense to that?” I ask.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Danger Pay for Help Line Operators

“So could you please repeat the number on the device?” the help line operator asks over the sounds of shouting and chaos in the background.

“Everything okay over there?” I reply, half joking.

“Yes, we just had another earthquake here, but I think everything is okay now,” he laughs nervously.

“Listen, dude, if it gets unsafe, don’t even say goodbye, just hang up and go,” I tell him earnestly.

Interesting Historical Figures

“Watching any good TV?” the blond, shaggy looking guy behind the counter at the liquor store asks as I bring up a bottle of wine.

“Well, we just finished the final season of Peaky Blinders,” I say after a moment’s thought. We discuss it for a while (he’s still on the first season), and I mention that the current season has interesting historical figures - “...including Oswald Mosley, the British fascist!”

I can already tell he’s tuned out, though, and the next customer is coming up behind me, so I bid everyone a semi-hasty good night and head out without elaboration.

Monday, November 11, 2019

What’s Good For Me?

When I wake up, still on the couch, the guy on the video is still slicing fruit, but I have no idea what’s going on, so I tell Katie, “I fell asleep.”

“Time for bed!” she says, and so naturally I sit there staring at my phone, flipping through memes, for another twenty minutes.

“Oh my God, you’re in pain,” she says, looking at me hunched over with a scowl on my face as I stare into my glass brick at pictures of cats. “Just go to bed."

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Let Him Be

I walk into the pizza place during my lunch break, nerves still jangling from a busy selling floor, and ask for a couple of slices.

After the guy behind the counter slides them into the oven to reheat, I turn around to survey the place, only to see a guy I work with eating a couple of slices of his own and watching videos on his phone.

He doesn’t see me, and I think about whether or not to disturb him - we’re friendly, but not friends, and I pretty sure he didn’t come to this place to make conversation.

So I let him be, and, after I get my slices, slide into a booth that allows me to sit facing the same direction as he’s facing so he can watch his phone unmolested.

Friday, November 8, 2019

We’re All Pretty Predictable

Katie grabs some stuff from her studio while the cat jumps up on the couch demanding to be fed. I pick the cat up, and needle-sharp claws go into my shoulder as she whines about the indignity of it all.

“I bet you can guess what I’m doing just from that sound,” I say.

“I bet I can,” Katie replies, without looking.

So Much For Metta

The unkempt man in the hoodie sleeping across three subway seats is now awake, and unhappy about it. He grabs at his crotch with one hand and gestures wildly with the other, the entire time saying things I cannot hear over the music playing in my headphones. 

Even without hearing him, it’s obvious that his imprecations are growing more violent as his gesticulations increase in ferocity and intensity, but I try to imagine him bathed in loving white light, surrounded by angels who soothe his fevered brain and calm his tattered heart.

Then he shudders up to a sitting position and begins shouting, and I move to the other side of the car.

Thursday, November 7, 2019


“Could you please bring me a pair of shoes that no one has ever tried on before?” she asks, so, after a brief hunt, I do, because she asked nicely.

She takes the box from me and unpacks the shoes herself, after thoroughly cleaning her hands with sanitizer. “I don’t do drugs, and I don’t hurt anyone,” she explains patiently as she lifts the shoes from the box and puts them on her feet. “We all have our little quirks,” she finishes. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

We Think She Used To Be Owned By An Elderly Spanish Woman, Based On No Evidence

The cat licks her chops after her nighttime dinner and stalks around on the bed, waiting for us to settle down and go to sleep so she too can go to her favorite sleeping spot.

“So if Honey [nb: my first cat] died eight years ago today, that means that eight years ago you,” she says, speaking to the cat, “were on the streets!”

“And I might as well have stayed there, the way you idiots make me live,” I say, pretending to speak as the cat in the time-honored tradition of pet owners everywhere.

“I used to speak Spanish!” Katie yells in mock outrage on the cat’s behalf.

Good With Faces

“Hey, how are you?” I say cheerfully to the woman coming into the stockroom behind me.

“Scott, I have to ask: do you even know my name?” she says.

“You're Sarah,” I reply seriously, “and if I’ve ever given you the impression that I don’t know your name, I am very sorry.”

I leave her with a confused expression on her face, but with a sinking feeling in my heart, knowing that if a few other people I work with had asked me that same question, the conversation would have gone very differently.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

No Car? No Problem!

The bus is almost empty, but I’m carrying four enormous sheets of stiff plastic, each about four by eight feet, and that, together with my almost pathological midwestern aversion to inconveniencing others, makes me want to just walk the final thirteen or so blocks home.

Katie’s having none of that, though, and when the bus driver slams the door on us, she doesn’t yell, doesn’t fuss, she just looks at him. Finally, when he asks, Katie tells him we’re only really going three stops, and he grudgingly opens the door and lets us on. 

As we shuffle to the back to the empty back of the bus, I carry my giant plastic sheets past an older gentleman, and he says, with a wink, “That’s the biggest MetroCard I’ve ever seen."

Not a Secret

The first weekend day of November comes in cold, crisp, and clear after yesterday’s rainy warmth, and so Katie sends me out to the farmer’s market. The dry, cold air dries out sinuses and skin, and she’s hoping I’ll pick up some eucalyptus to put in the shower, because the fragrant, menthol atmosphere they create helps us get through the long, dark days to come.

Apparently we’re not the only ones with this idea, because the stalls all have eucalyptus by the bushel-full. I see a couple people walking around with bags of the stuff, and we all make eye contact and smile at one another, like we know a secret.