A Valentine’s Day Story

Unknown.jpeg I’m at Housing Works Thrift Shop sniffing around, hoping nothing major catches my eye, since last time I popped in, madam came home lugging a rocking chair.

There’s a little Latino fella transfixed by a red and white bike that’s out for sale.

He keeps rolling it back and forth, tenderly rubbing its seat like a woman he’s very fond of.

While perusing odd pieces of china, I watch him out of the corner of my eye.

He looks as if he’s about to leave.

I mosey over.

“Seems like you’re interested in that bike.”

He rubs his chin thoughtfully before saying, ‘Yaz, my fadder’ needs one, for hez’ store, but I dunno much so, could be too much.”

I peek at the price. 85.00 dollars. To me it looks like a good deal since it does seem in good shape. A guy comes in, on cue, in bike-racer regalia, so I call him over.

“What do you think of this bike?”

Without pause, he crouches, looking it over with a jeweler’s eye and says, “It’s great, but the front tire is pretty shot.”

The Latino guy is standing behind us listening.

“Is it worth 85 bucks ya think, even with a worn out tire?”

“Absolutely. Do you know what a bike like this costs new? It’s a Renegade.”

I turn to the Latino fella. “Well, it’s a good buy he says. Do you have the money to get it?’

“He looks down at his black, beat up Converse High Tops and says, “I have 100 doe’lers’ saved so, yaz’, I have.”

This is killing me. This poor guy wants to do something nice for his dad, spending all the money he has in the world, so I say, “I’m Susannah and I’d like to help. How bout I chip in.”

“Cheep’ in? No comprendo Senora.”

“I want to help so you’ll buy it.”

Just then the bike expert says, “That’s really great. You know what, I’ll chip in too.”

Then the girl behind the counter says, “I’ll give you the Super Tuesday’s 20% off discount even though it’s Thursday.”

Before we know it, the bike is now only going to cost this young fella $25.00, then the bike man says, he’d take him to the bike shop and help him get a new tire.

I am so moved by the generosity going around like a strain of sudden goodness, that I start to cry.

The soon to be new bike owner, hands me his folded handkerchief, the kind only real gentlemen carry and says, “No ca’di Senora. I should ca’di. Such kind people I nee’ver know.”

It made me think of that wall we’ve been hearing so much about, since Manuel, is his name, looks like a candidate for being on its other side.

It made the whole matter, matter so much more.

“Happy Valentine’s Day Amigo.”images-1.jpeg

“Gracias Senora….gracias.”

SB

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Posted in creative writing, Culture, friendship, humanity, inspiration, New York City, Sports | Tagged , , , | 39 Comments

Urban Catholic

I’m not religious by any means but still often, pop into church.

To quote Bunny Mellon…I’m a different sort of Christian. I don’t really come by to pray, I stop in to talk with God because he’s a dear, dear friend of mine.

But unlike Bunny, I do still pray, like the dickens, as a matter of fact.

What do I pray about? You name it, knowing that prayer causes shifts in the worst possible circumstances.

Take this cold for instance where people are suffering. A couple I know who live in a loft have had no heat for over two weeks, sleeping in their clothes surrounded by electric heaters.

And they’re the lucky ones since their pipes have yet to freeze.

Rumor has it, city shelters are turning people away because they’re overcrowded, many sleeping in the subway to keep warm.

This is a glimmer of what it must have been like during the depression when people were out of work, living in tents because they lost their homes. It’s why my grandmother loved FDR so much, keeping his picture framed on her mantel next to all those she loved.

He showed up on his steed, well if one could call a wheelchair a thoroughbred, to inspire hope and lessen fear saying, the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

My friend Tom who makes fun of my love of history likes to say, FDR gets the Big Balls Award for saying such bullshit to people who had nothing to eat but stale bread.

All I know is, if only someone would speak like that now, how much better would we all feel, even if just in theory.

Hope is what prayer is all about, besieging the powers that be to intervene for those of us needing intercession, or at least its possibility.

Where there is no way, God opens a way, they say around the altar.

I don’t formally consider myself Catholic anymore for a number of good reasons, one being, God gets such a bad rap being used by religions he had nothing to do with.

We blame him for the priests that stray and those who protect them, like a celestial scapegoat with wings. That’s not to say he answers every call, but the world is collapsing at the speed of light remember, so one has to just realize, he’s very busy.

Maybe as we pray, it’s like taking a ticket at a good bakery. You just need to wait your turn.

PRAYER NUMBER 4,809.

Finally!

That’s me God…

I was just wondering…

SB

 

 

Posted in grace, inspiration, Politics, religion, words, writing | Tagged , , | 38 Comments

Pride of Language

images.pngan Old English term, morphing from the word pride, meaning the most important, significant position among a group of objects or personal possessions.

The Mona Lisa, for instance, has a major, pride of place, at The Louvre, in Paris.

Someone’s wedding picture might be considered one, or a diploma, trophy, or Gramma’s favorite chair.

I’ve been reading Dashiell Hammett mysteries, images.jpeg and along with drinking before breakfast, Dash seemed to favor the phrase that’s rather pleasing to this reader’s eye, alerting me to its melody.

Made me look around my flat to see what I could claim as my own...pride of place.

Could be my lemon painting hanging on a prominent wall to honor my late friend Jackie who always said…’when you get lemons, you make lemonade’.

Or my old neighbor Mimi’s owl, Elsa, who watches over things from the top shelf of my bookcase.

Then again, maybe it’s my bed covered with stuffed animals all named after American Presidents: George, Abe, Teddy, Ike, Harry, Jack and John Quincy, taking ménage a’ trois to new heights.

It’s interesting to apply it personally since, we all have something that we’re proud of, even if it’s kept under our hat.

Speaking of secrets, it could be the top hat I pinched, while drunk, at a party, allegedly belonging to one of the Vanderbilts.

I couldn’t help myself. Just call it history, on the rocks.

Maybe it’s time to take it from its noble box to display it in, a pride of place, if for no other reason but to honor where it might have been, like the famous Costume Ball of the Decade, Alva Vanderbilt gave in 1880.

If only hats could talk.

But back to language that’s not only inspiring, but lovely, lyrical and lights one’s imagination.

So what treasure do you have on display you’re rather smitten with.

A stuffed deer you bagged in Maine?

Bronzed booties?

A signed copy of Electric Ladyland next to your prized Gibson Flying V Electric you named Jimi?

Tell me what’s under your hat…

I’m curious.   images-3.jpeg

Susannah

 

 

Posted in art, Books, Home, New York City, words, writing | Tagged , , , | 66 Comments

Best Story of the Week…January 7

It’s still dark as I make my way to the Park, the temperature barely hitting 30.

I’m wearing so many clothes it looks as if I’ve just sneaked out of a hotel without paying the bill, the only way to travel in these chilly climes.

The sleepy streets are empty except for someone in the distance walking their dog.

As they come nearer I see it’s a girl who couldn’t be more than 12 or 13, still wearing her PJs that are exactly like a pair of mine.

Along with Uggs she probably jumped into minus socks, a little cap and a light weight navy parka, the cold didn’t seem to be bothering her.

Her dog, a white Bulldog with serious width, appears warmer in a fur coat making him look like a fat, short Liberace.

As I approach smiling, chilly despite my layers, say, “Aren’t you cold in just your pajamas?”

“Nah, I’m good,” she says, smiling back, strolling like we were in Palm Beach.

The dog, who seems annoyed he has to stop, grunts before lifting his leg.

“Well,” I guess he told me.”

This kid giggles, the pom-poms of her hat swinging like a pendulum making me like her right away. There was nothing of the snoot in her you often encounter in an Upper East Side preteen.

I keep smiling, even as I peel off knowing, I’ll remember her, especially when I wear my green plaid L.L. Bean pajamas and jump into my Uggs without socks.

SB

Posted in animals, Culture, Fashion, humor, inspiration, kids, nature, New York City | Tagged , , , , , | 51 Comments

Attention All Girls…Face Up

images-2.jpeg There comes a time in every woman’s life when she considers plastic surgery. You look in the mirror one day and wonder, who the hell is that?

I made the decision a while back, to leave myself alone, and it wasn’t easy, not until I took a serious survey.

Living on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, I’m surrounded by women with the means to treat their faces like beachfront property.

The trouble is, most of them overdo it. I saw a woman recently whose face was so pulled you could have skied down her cheeks. You ask yourself, what doctor did this to her, but apparently it’s more the woman wanting more, more, more.

Then there’s the girl I actually know whose lips look like trampolines, big and lumpy, with so much lipstick that make them look even lumpier. Why pray tell, would you want to look as if you were stung by a swarm of bees?

Jackie Onassis comes to mind who in her 50s had what’s called a little clean-up. She still looked herself, just well rested. At least that’s what you thought when you saw her. Now her sister Lee, is another matter. At 85, she looks like a conga drum.

My face has fallen, there’s no denying it. My chin going south, my eyes crinkling like slanted dark potato chips. I tell myself, when someone really looks at you Susannah, they look at you as a whole, unless it’s someone evil, and yes, they lurk like mean queens celebrating your new nooks and crannies.

One such woman has had three face-lifts and doesn’t look any different, a smoker, those lines around her mouth so deep, despite gallons of Botox, still there.

Okay, her forehead is pretty smooth, like a salad plate, but still the poster putz for plastic, if you ask me, pleading the opposite.

DON’T DO IT—ACCEPT WHO YOU ARE.

I want to be like the singer, Patti Smith, who with the exception of perhaps a bang trim, has done nothing to herself and looks incredibly beautiful—every line earned, eyes that tell stories.

Getting older IS NOT A CRIME

It’s a privilege, as my late, great friend Jackie used to say.

So we may look as if we did 4 tours in Nam, so what.

Gives, keep your chin up, all new meaning, even if you have to hold it up with your forefingers.   Unknown.jpeg

SB

 

 

Posted in Beauty, grace, humor, New York City, women | Tagged , , , , , | 113 Comments

He Fell For Me

I believe in cause and effect, that what goes around, comes around.

You reap what you sow.

But yesterday, in my travels, karma never shined more brightly.

Karma’s definition, according to Webster’s…in Hinduism and Buddhism…the sum of a person’s actions in this and previous states of existence, viewed as deciding their fate in future existences.

In other words, how you treat others is how you’ll be treated then, now and always.

I wrote two weeks ago about a young boy I helped who had taken a fall on a busy street (Best Story of the Week…January 18th).

Well on Friday, a young man his age, 16 or so, took the time to help me after I took a spill.

I was daydreaming when I tripped right in front of Grand Central Station. Dozens of people in their haste, moved around me as I sat, dazed, on the pavement.

This kid, taking out his earbuds, stopped and sat beside me.

“Are you okay?” he asked, placing his hand gingerly on my shoulder.

“I think so,” I said, ignoring my right knee that I slammed good and hard.

“Why are you sitting on the cold ground?” I asked, suddenly seeing he too was perched on his butt. “You didn’t fall too, did you?”

“No. I just didn’t want you to feel alone, or funny cause you fell.”

Isn’t that the sweetest thing you’ve ever heard?

He took my arm helping me up since my leg wouldn’t bend. It’s when I gratefully realized nothing could be broken if I could actually stand, more or less, solid on my feet.

He waited while I collected myself, and only left convinced, I was okay to resume flight.

I limped into the subway, got a seat on the train and thought about this kid.

Despite the persistent pain I’d have to spend the remainder of the day icing, I felt somehow grateful that it had happened. One because it reminded me to be more mindful, along with encouraging my future good works, I tend to call into question.

And of course, to just look, where the fuck I’m going.

SB

 

 

Posted in Culture, grace, humanity, humor, inspiration, New York City, Uncategorized, words | Tagged , , | 60 Comments

Best Story of the Week…January 31

I’m on West 23rd Street by the Chelsea Hotel, images copy.jpeg a favorite spot of mine for its historical, artistic lore. It’s where Patti Smith lived with Robert Mapplethorpe and Janis Joplin and The Ramones danced and dreamed. Arthur Miller and Dylan Thomas both wrote there, and if you want to get dark, it’s where Sid killed Nancy.

That said…

I see a kid in front, all of 25, pale as me with dreadlocks streaming in the wind, packing up his sleeping bags. He has two dogs dressed in his own clothing, waiting patiently for their next move.

I’ve seen him before, way uptown, with one dog who now seems to have only one working eye. He was sprawled on a blanket, reading The Alienist, by Caleb Carr, displaying a sign that mewled in Quaker sentiment…

SOCIETY OF FRIENDS, PLEASE HELP IF YOU CAN

Between the dog in a parka, and that he was reading one of my favorite books, I naturally emptied my pockets.

At least it was warmer then, not like now where he should really be in one of the many city shelters, but what you learn about the homeless is, there’s something very undignified going into one, a cold corner on the pavement, proudly preferred.

I give him the two bucks I have for the 12 step meeting I’m en route to, he needing it more.

His dogs bark as I take out my wallet, protecting their man as they should. After all, he didn’t leave them behind since, no one gets left behind, according to the U.S. Army Rangers.

Yet, this boy strikes me as being fatally forgotten.

He has another book, said he finished The Alienist, and was hoping this one lasted the day. Oh my, a passionate reader, just like me, despite his crumbling circumstances.

If the book in my bag was mine and not the library’s, it would have then been his.

I have nothing else to give, except perhaps prayer, hoping God, who’s been missing in action lately, hears me.

But what really left a mark, was not the one-eyed dog or his chihuahua brother in his much too big, gray-striped turtleneck, but the smile this young lad gave me as I took flight.

Jesus said, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers (and sisters) of mine, you did for me.”

Yeah yeah. I hear God bats last. Well, he better hurry up to the plate, that’s all I know, or this soul will be lost.

As I walk away, I’m not thinking of Patti or Dylan, Sid and Nancy, or how the Chelseaimages.jpeg has stood the test of time, or even Jesus for that matter, but this young man and his beloved pets, making their way courageously in the icy cold, along the lonely streets of New York City.

Susannah

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Hair-raising

I’ve decided to leave my hair to Science.  My only dilemma is whether to include my head or not.

Did you say, why Susannah, are you that desperate to be remembered?

Yes.

You see, my hair grows north and thick, like a mushroom, causing me to expand from the neck up in a not so attractive manner, which is why my hairdresser is on retainer.

I’ll go to bed looking relatively normal, just to get up as though I had an electrical short during the night, leading me straight to the sink to douse my head in water.

Then I smother it with leave-on conditioner so lacquered down I could easily be part of a barbershop quartet, which of course, would cut down on all those wash and sets if one would have me, but you know how men are.

I can’t quite figure out, gene wise, who I’ve inherited this mangy mane from. My mother had straight black hair, like Cher, so it couldn’t be from her, and my dad’s family all had curly hair in the shape of corkscrews, which is apt since they were all alcoholic.

Maybe it’s just nature playing one of her silly pranks, growing my tresses like topiary, I really can’t say, but will write to the Smithsonian, perhaps to the Air and Space Museum, that we could maybe change to Hair and Space, to see if they’d be interested. How cool to be near the Wright Brothers first airplane, and John Glenn’s Pressure suit that let’s hope was deodorized.

Maybe I’ll even toss in my brain, you know, as an added bonus.

If nothing else, it might give them a good laugh, which is all we ever hope for here at athingirl.com.  

SB

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FIRE!

I’m standing at my front window taking notes watching a fire across the street. Not only is it terrifying, it’s incredibly entertaining. I know, what a thing to admit, but haven’t you heard, candor is the new black.

Four trucks have taken over the street, lights flashing, men running out of every door in full, Towering Inferno, regalia.

Hoses are now being hauled, along with an assembly of axes. This is a huge high-rise, unlike my building that resembles an Amish barn, small and square, so the threat of impending doom looms.

I’m wondering how serious it really is, because the cavalry comes, no matter what since, you just never know, the New York City Fire Department taking no chances.

How could they after all they’ve seen.

I call downstairs to Farouk, the doorman, asking what he knows. He’s from the Islands so his English over the intercom, let’s say, isn’t exactly crystal clear. I did hear, keeds, so that’s enough for me.

I throw on clothes to be outside in case children come out in their pajamas, my imagination running wild. I could bring them all into my apartment and make hot cocoa, well, if I had any that is. That’s the trouble with writers, we’re constantly penning a screenplay, without supplies.

I then think, CVS is open on the corner, I can go buy some, along with cookies, candy and cake, hey, these are special circumstances remember, but when I try, a fire captain holds out his hand and says, “Saari Maah-dam, the schreet’s schut.”

“Is everyone okay?’ I ask in my best tax payer’s voice, but trying to get info from him is like Lucy trying to get that Buckingham Palace guard to smile.

Captain Crank, I’ll call him since his charm is down several quarts, might never smile again, but to cut him some slack, God only knows the horrors he’s seen, as September 11th swoons across both our screens.

So now I’m back at my front door smelling smoke but seeing no flames, figuring that’s a good sign.

After 40 minutes that feels like 40 days and 40 nights, all the firefighters come out without any keeds. Turns out a woman on 12, in the back, had a grease fire.

OOH…A WOMAN OF A CERTAIN AGE’S BIGGEST FEAR!

Even though she apparently put it out, in a building that size, when one smoke detector goes off, they all do, hence, four firetrucks, 50 feet of hose, a collection of axes Lizzie Borden would have admired, and a thin girl across the way, who couldn’t sleep, who saw it all.    Unknown.jpeg

SB

 

Posted in creative writing, Home, kids, New York City, violence | Tagged , | 27 Comments

Notes From The Carlyle – January, 2019

images.jpegIt’s the coldest day of the year so far, as I run into Bemelmans to warm my face that feels frozen, despite a cashmere scarf wrapped around it mummy style.
I’m surprised how packed it is at 2 in the afternoon, but realize, at 9 degrees with a wind chill of 12 below, brandy sounds a whole lot better than tea.
I order a Hot Toddie with lemon, honey and mint, the way my mother made one, when the warm brandy makes a double dent in your nostrils.
Suddenly my fellow bar drinkers switch to what I start to call, a Mother, on the rocks, the aroma of mint whirling round the room like wrists of working girls…those lei lady lays of the night.
A robust redhead seated one stool away, starts to chat. Drenched in green, her hair piled high like the Taj Mahal, Minnie, I’ll call her, lives in Dallas, here to do some shoppin’ and museum goin’, pronouncing museum…mu..ZE’um.
Sitting nice and tall bedecked in jewels that heave as she carps about the frigid cold, and how it’s a good thing she brought along her three minks.
“Why three, “I ask, picturing her wearing all three at once.
“A girl gets tie’od of wearin’ the same thang’, don’t ya agree?”
I so want to stick a pencil in her hair to see if it would stay, but instead, look down at my old Chanel skirt I took out for her seasonal spin and say, “Oh yeah, I sure do.”
I’ve always been fascinated by women like Minnie…rich, bored and unconscious. Reminds me of the quote…if you want to know what God thinks about money, look who he gives it to.
Popping into the Carlyle for me is always a treat at 20 bucks a drink, justified by all that it comes with: chips, the Madeline Murals, Kennedy lore and much more. It’s a pricey package deal leaving you sated with eras gone by.
Minnie, for me, is like parsley on a plate, her garish, lavishness lending a side of what’s unnecessary, like fries with a good steak, or one of those umbrellas that come in a kitschy cocktail.
I knew she didn’t even appreciate where she was since, too much breeds little grace, so when she invites me to dinner, I politely decline. Frankly, an hour of her inanity is way past my limit, her voice now mewling like Muzak in an elevator.
A gentleman in a snappy sports coat sidles up to her other side, making my exit easier.
“Are ya shu’er sweetie, ya don’t wanna come out ta’ dinna? You look like you could use a good mee’al…is that how ya stay so theein’…ya just don’t eeet?”
If I didn’t know better, why I’d think Minnie was making a pass, but as quickly as she repeats her offer, I see her hand on her new companion’s forearm as she orders…
two moa’ Mothas’, on the rocks, extra meeint’.  🙂
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