- © 2011-2018 My eBooks, Notes From A Working Cat, A New York Diary and Model Behavior: Friends For life are available @ http://www.amazon.com by tapping on their covers.
Kindness, let’s face it, has been globally down a quart, every man for himself, the world’s new motto.
Nowadays when you hold a door, ask how someone is or even say thank you, you’re looked upon as a freak.
But not this morning.
I’m in my local grocery store.
It’s Veteran’s Day, many people are off, so at noon, it’s unusually crowded.
I’m in line with a sushi roll while three workmen are behind me waiting to pay for their overpriced lunch. It’s the Upper East Side remember, where you expect meatloaf to come with a diploma.
These men are big and burly, quiet and patient, but I see one of them looking at his watch.
“How long is your lunch hour?” I ask him.
“This took so long that we only have 20 minutes left, but it’s okay,” he says, without complaint.
I notice it was all hot food too, or now at best, warm, so I say, “Please, go ahead of me.”
They all, in unison, shake their heads no, but I insist by saying, “I have nowhere to be, and my sushi can’t get any colder.”
Laughing, my joke breaking the ice, one by one, they meekly go in front of me paying for their pasta and Cokes, but before they’re out the door, all three with big smiles, turn around to thank me.
The woman behind me says, “You know, you annoyed me at first, letting them all go, but after seeing how happy they were, I’m over it.”
I smile at her, managing not to say anything snarky about her lavish fur coat, and the way she spoke so sharply to Yasmin, the cashier, and think…
kindness, that just made a sudden cameo, who knows, might actually be making a comeback.
One can only hope.
Basking in bed with a big bowl and a book, is my idea of heaven, without leaving the house.
The trouble is, the sodium, even in Skinny Pop, the single girl’s answer to keeping your dress size down, kinda spoils the party.
Of course I eat a jumbo bag I later on regret when at 2 a.m. I’m awakened by pain in my legs, gasping for water, but never say die when it comes to snacking.
I know…why don’t I just pop my own?
A little secret about me. I never read directions. Why? Who knows. Just part of my charm I guess, from years of living alone, doing everything by the seat of my pants, cooking being no exception.
I haul out one of my many unused frying pans I should just plant geraniums in, choose the smallest (DUH NUMBER 1), pour olive oil in it like I’m about to fry a steer, and throw in a whole cup of pure, organic, no sodium Vermont made corn.
If I had read the package it says..3 tablespoons of oil over low heat, and a third cup of corn in an ample pan.
As I wait alongside my personalized popcorn bowl wondering how long it will take, I suddenly hear that great sound of popping, almost like a rumba beat.
Now I’m impatient it being a whole 25 seconds and all since I turned up the gas as though I were cremating, so…here comes DUH NUMBER 2… without turning off, or even down the flame, remove the lid off the pan and…
WHOA…WE HAD THE ROCKETTES OF CORN, LITTLE KERNELS NOW THE SIZE OF PLUMS, POPPING ALL OVER THE KITCHEN.
Though shocked, start to laugh, the last one being on me when the smoke alarm went off causing the assistant super to burst in like the cavalry.
“Suzonna, what are you dooing?”
“Cooking, what does it look like I’m doing?”
When he arrived, all 7 feet of him, I politely asked if he’d like a bowl to take with him, that is, after he opened all the windows, reset the alarm and gave me a lecture on fire safety.
After I swept up the kitchen that looked like the aftermath of a Yankee Game, my desire for popcorn not gone, tooled over to CVS and bought a big bag of Skinny Pop that, whaddaya know, was on sale.
Bruce, the sweet, bald, tattooed fella who waited on me said, “Do you smell smoke?”
I always marvel at the people one meets who are more than willing to help you. It’s rarely who you’d expect to step up to the plate on your behalf.
I’m in an area of Brooklyn I’ve never been before, trying to make my way home, by subway. After 2 people direct me to the C Line, one I ride regularly, I’m now on it, but at one end of its very long route.
I want to somehow switch to the East Side train since it’s too late to walk through the Park, and too cold to wait for the bus.
I think there’s a Borough Hall stop, but there isn’t, causing me, what I don’t realize, to visually panic.
A man of color in dusty work clothes notices my distress and says, “Where’s ya wanna go Miss?”
When I tell him he says, “Get off at Fulton, the old World Trades Centa’ stop.”
“Yeah but, it’s not up there with the rest of the stops.” Some trains, such as this one, has an electric board that lights up as you go.
“That’s cause yous’ a good 17, 18 stops from there, so it ain’t shown up on the screen yet.”
Another man of color in a cheesy leisure suit he wears like it’s custom-made adds, “The stops go quick, so best ya just chill and enjoy the ride.”
He has a case that must harbor some kind of horn he holds like a baby, his long fingers adorned with huge rhinestone rings.
I then look over my shoulder and see a Latino man with a bike, who actually made me a little nervous while waiting on the platform, nod from across the car assuring me I was given the right directions.
As I sit alongside these men standing sentry over my stress, it gets me thinking.
These 3 and their brethren are who make up the fabric of my fair city. Not the stuffy, entitled Upper East and West Siders with their New Yorkers and Wall Street Journals, oblivious to what’s happening around them.
But hardhats and hotel workers, MTA and delivery men, and even a man on a bicycle that’s not supposed to bring it on the train.
I also now feel safe in a part of town that’s strange to me.
I thank them as I alight at Fulton, cantering up the stairs following the 4 and 5 Uptown signs. I now begin thinking of all the people who helped rebuild this station after the terrorist attacks destroyed it on September 11th, 2001.
As a New Yorker, I’m feeling proud being part of something bigger, safe in a place that, despite its challenges, still never lets me down.
There are two men, on the periphery of my life, peering in.
One is a beat-up musician I should run from, the other, a well-heeled Englishman I should run towards.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the natty type that looks as if he was just polished with a fresh shammy, but the earthier one with that bad boy veneer is the one who beckons.
Hair to his waist, gray and ratty, falling over big blue eyes that haven’t properly shut since 1985, thanks to the hours that he keeps….and if those tattoos could only talk.
Natty of course smells like sun-dried sheets, not a hair out of place, with glimmering Gucci loafers you could see your reflection in.
I called my friend Camille, who since I’ve stopped drinking, don’t see much of. Over lunch at the 3 Guys Coffee Shop across the street from The Carlyle that seemed to call both our names, I asked what she thought.
“Well, you know what I do when I can’t decide what to have on the buffet table…have a little of each.”
“Yeah Camille, I understand that reasoning, but you forget, my taste buds are rusty, my store being closed for so long and all.”
“Don’t you think it’s about time for a reopening?”
“Yeah, but I’m nervous.”
“Romance and sex, or the other way around, is like riding a bike. One good spin around the block, and you’ll be doing wheelies.”
I thought about this as we ate our club sandwiches, no bacon on mine, extra on hers, as we stared at the Carlyle’s canopy.
“Don’t you miss Bemelmans, just a little?’
“I miss it, just a lot, but I’m not going over there. The last time, well, I had a little reunion with another Brit who shall remain nameless.”
“Like I don’t know who it is.”
“It’s just that, every time he’s mentioned, he pops up, like a fairy coming in for a landing.”
“You said it, I didn’t.”
“HE’S NOT GAY.”
“Well, that accent is very alluring which is why Welles is a candidate yet, Elvis, I’ll call him, he’s ya know…so, so…
After we had coffee and split apple pie, Camille said, “So what’s it gonna be, pizza or Beef Wellington?”
I just smiled, but since I don’t eat meat and love pizza, well…hope my leather jeans with the fringe still fit.
Fred the cat, being given a special citation by the New York City Police Department for his undercover work in a sting operation.
Patrick, the cat next door, who will only eat Ben and Jerry’s, Chunky Monkey, no other flavor.
Staying with cats, Zeus who looks like Morris if he were Orson Welles, couldn’t get a Halloween costume to fit him at Petco, so his mother cleverly sliced one of her bandanas in half so he could answer the door as Cat Ballou, greeting the 24 kids who knocked on it.
Donald Trump’s hair.
How often I find my reading glasses in the freezer.
Bill Hicks’s joke, that after nuclear war, the only things left will be cockroaches and Keith Richards…excuse me Bill if I’ve paraphrased.
My friend’s 8 year-old son, Samuel, ordering a tuna melt, with no cheese or tomato, not toasted.
The first time Sam ever came to my house, he looked at my couch and said: I guess you never met a pillow you didn’t like.
Writer Pete Hamill saying, going out with Jackie O. was like taking King Kong to the beach.
My pal Ed’s extensive tie collection.
When Cary Fisher was married to Paul Simon, as she was about to get on a plane after they had just had an enormous fight said, “If my plane crashes, you’re gonna be sorry.”
Paul said, “Maybe not.”
How Rocky Mazzilli, my friend’s chihuahua, has no idea how little he is. He looks at you as if he’s saying…who you callin’ little?
The time my father went out to buy beer forgetting to put on his pants. Imagine a middle-aged man in festive Fruit of the Looms with a 6 pack of Schlitz.
Clemenza, teaching Michael, how to make tomato sauce. “Hey, come over here kid, learn somethin. You never know you might have to cook for 20 Guys someday.
Anne Lamott’s friend who told her, she wanted to kill herself, but needed to lose 5 pounds first.
And I’ll end with my favorite New Yorker cartoon.
Two hotdogs meet. One says to the other:
They grilled me Eddie, but I didn’t talk.
Humor, where would we be without it.
In the nuthouse, that’s where.
I often write about the very rich and their opulence that can easily turn into the ridiculous, like this morning.
A family I’ve never seen, owns 6 miniature Dachshunds walked each morning, faithfully, by a middle-aged Latino man.
Today, something happened and they got off their leash. It’s one that harnesses them all together, that somehow, snapped.
Well, imagine 6 hotdogs escaping from their buns.
There they were, galloping in all directions barking up a storm as if chanting…
Free at Last, Free at last...
but here’s the best part.
Everyone stopped to help, chasing them down, including me who corralled a gal named Sal (short for Sally Ann) in her Burberry, light fall sweater with an imposing S on the front.
In minutes they were all rounded up, everyone laughing and smiling, while the walker made numerous signs of the cross.
He actually put them all in a cab to be on the safe side.
As the taxi turned the corner, we all watched and waved as their little brown snouts pressed on the window, I’ll just bet, humming…
Free at Last, Free at last…ALMOST…Free at last.
I’ve been holding vigil for a friend who just passed.
He was sick for a long time and frankly, to see him released from the bondage of illness lightens my heart.
Andrew was a Vietnam Veteran who loved his country almost as much as Kate, his wife of many years, and their two sons, Max and Jesse.
In 1861, Sullivan Ballou, a Union Officer in the American Civil War, wrote a letter to his wife that seems apt to print, from soldier to soldier.
Ken Burns poignantly ended his first installment of his Civil War film so powerfully with it, as music mewled tenderly.
July 14, 1861
Camp Clark, Washington
My very dear Sarah: The indications are very strong that we shall move in a few days — perhaps tomorrow. Lest I should not be able to write again, I feel impelled to write a few lines that may fall under your eye when I shall be no more …
I have no misgivings about, or lack of confidence in the cause in which I am engaged, and my courage does not halt or falter. I know how strongly American Civilization now leans on the triumph of the Government and how great a debt we owe to those who went before us through the blood and sufferings of the Revolution. And I am willing — perfectly willing — to lay down all my joys in this life, to help maintain this Government, and to pay that debt …
Sarah, my love for you is deathless, it seems to bind me with mighty cables that nothing but Omnipotence could break; and yet my love of Country comes over me like a strong wind and bears me unresistibly on with all these chains to the battle field.
The memories of the blissful moments I have spent with you come creeping over me, and I feel most gratified to God and to you that I have enjoyed them for so long. And hard it is for me to give them up and burn to ashes the hopes of future years, when, God willing, we might still have lived and loved together, and seen our sons grown up to honorable manhood, around us. I have, I know, but few and small claims upon Divine Providence, but something whispers to me…If I do not my dear Sarah, never forget how much I love you, and when my last breath escapes me on the battle field, it will whisper your name. Forgive my many faults and the many pains I have caused you. How thoughtless and foolish I have often times been! How gladly would I wash out with my tears every little spot upon your happiness …
But, O Sarah! If the dead can come back to this earth and flit unseen around those they loved, I shall always be near you; in the gladdest days and in the darkest nights … always, always, and if there be a soft breeze upon your cheek, it shall be my breath, as the cool air fans your throbbing temple, it shall be my spirit passing by. Sarah do not mourn me dead; think I am gone and wait for thee, for we shall meet again …
Sullivan Ballou was killed a week later at the First Battle of Bull Run, July 21, 1861.
Godspeed Andy…for we shall meet again,