Best Story of the Week…Share Your Bananas

Late, en route to a job, my sugar suddenly drops causing me to feel faint.

Stupidly skipping breakfast in my frenzy to leave realize, if I don’t eat something fast I’ll be in big trouble.

I have no cash, no time to go to the bank, so I hop to the 24 hour fruit vendor standing half asleep on the corner. You have to wonder, who the hell’s buying papayas at 3 A.M., but there he is, in all his sleepy splendor.

“Excuse me,” I say, “but if I promise to pay you later, can you front me a banana?”

As an aside, a banana, like a rocket, spikes your sugar right up.

Fruit kid, all of 20, doesn’t respond, just stares at me like I’m a ghost from banana past.

I repeat myself. Before finishing my sentence, he grabs a half dozen, shoving them into my open tote.

“No, no,” I say, “I really only need one, and I promise to pay you the quarter when I get back (4 for a dollar).”

He then adds another 6, like I was Cheetah.

I look at my watch. Shit, I gotta go, thanking him over my shoulder, bananas hanging out of my bag like drunken sailors, sailing to the train.

The law of the jungle, according to writer Anne Lamott…

keep calm and share your bananas, so as the number 6 tooled down Lex, I passed them out to everyone on the car. 🙂



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Humor Takes All

Hard to be cheery when you’re grieving. but what better way to heal, acting as if until you are.

The little girls of the family renting my late friend Mimi’s apartment, made me roses out of pink Kleenex, their stems with bobby pins.

We love you, we love Mimi, their card said, though they had never met her.

We bought balloons that Frank the super blew up we let go shouting, bye Mimi, have a nice trip. How she would have loved the innocence of these children, taught, this is the best way to say good-bye to a friend.

I read some Anne Lamott, always good for a giggle with a little gospel tossed in, a king size box of Oreos on my nightstand with a silo of milk to dunk them in.

Simple pleasures, creature comforts, thoughts that warm will see us through.

We’re designed to recover, one off our best features, since when we least expect it, sadness recycles into a tender tap on the shoulder.

I’ll see a woman in a bright, snappy suit imagining Mimi tooling down the street, or hydrangeas, her favorite bloom, will appear, waving as they bounce by.

A robin will sunbathe on my window sill reminding me when Mimi fed a baby fallen from its nest with an eye dropper, while someone lets me go first in a check-out line teasing, is that all you’re having for dinner?

I’ll think, Mimi, is that you?

The goodness of our dearly departed lingers, as a lofty, lasting legacy.

You just need to be on the look-out is all.






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So Long Mimi

My friend Mimi died, passed away peacefully in her sleep.

Though well into her 80s, it’s not a comfort when someone says, she lived a good life. Maybe so, but my sadness still surrounds me like a scrim I can’t quite see through.

She was my neighbor across the hall who, when I first moved in, was the only one who bothered getting to know me.

We became friends in a New York minute, as the saying goes, weaving into one another’s lives despite our age difference.

Then two years ago she was convinced by her nephew, it would be better to move into an assisted living home in Washington D.C. saying she was headed towards early dementia. Let me say, she was sharper than a tack, and early dementia in your 80s is kind of funny when you think about it.

The news devastated Mimi since she lived here for over 50 years, but her family frightened her saying, it was best done now, while she still had her marbles…quote, unquote.

There were other options, yet uprooting her was what was done and if there was ever a time I regret not speaking up, it’s now.

I said nothing as I watched her struggle not wanting to go, but also being stoic, not wishing to burden.

She had money, friends, me across the hall, an extra bedroom for someone to come live even part-time, but kept silent painfully selling her things, giving much away since her new home, though grand, was much smaller.

She called me every day at first, saying she was coming back, she’d try it for two months but knew already she was coming home.

It never occurred to me her family would never allow this though they pretended otherwise, but when they wouldn’t even let her come to visit, then I knew.

I’m weeping, selfishly perhaps even writing about it, but writing is the only way I know how to deal with feelings, dispersing them onto the page.

Loss is such a part of life, yet it never feels natural, doesn’t matter how many times it happens. It’s heartbreaking to know I’ll never hear that vibrant voice again say,

Susannah, it’s Mimi…are you eating?

I’d often find a casserole dish in front of my door. I knew she didn’t cook, like me, the two queens of take-out, but figured, by transferring whatever into her earthenware I’d have to return, there was a better chance of me eating it.

The last thing she said to me was, why doesn’t God just take me? A question she’d ask often.

And I’d say, because your room isn’t ready yet Mimi, that’s why, always hanging up on a laugh.

Well, alas, her room is ready now.

Farewell my friend and at some point, we shall meet again, and just so you know,

I’m eating.

Your friend,


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Raccoons Anonymous

It’s 6 a.m., not quite first light, as I run towards daybreak.

Suddenly I hear a screech, like a car careening around a corner, but of course there are none since the park is still closed. A couple running ahead of me hear it too as the three of us briefly look both ways, not breaking our stride.

There it is again.

I look up and see two immense raccoons fighting on the top branch of a huge tree, a third, smaller, scurrying down.

A family, I decide, the kid knowing he better get the hell outta there if he knows what’s good for him.

Yeah, I say, go visit a friend, relating to parents swinging at one another not caring who gets hit. Run don’t walk, I yell, wishing he could really hear me.

Bet the father’s a drunk and the mother, stupidly trying to reason with him, like any true al-anonic. Every time she approaches him, he slams her again. Wow, I think, how familiar is this?

I want to yell, you both need a meeting…AA for him, Al-Anon for you, ma’am, knowing how much it would help her, but can tell, the way she keeps trying to negotiate with her drunk, that she’s still a victim not realizing, she’s also a willing volunteer.

The kid is smart, unlike me at his age, not hiding under the bed, knowing enough to protect himself at all costs. Maybe when he does venture home, they will have slept it off forgetting the names they called each other and how she got those brutal bruises and blacker eyes.

 Nature, I think, she’s always up to something, as dawn finally rises in the East.


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Kale Kale the Gang’s All Here

My neighborhood has sprouted a new eating phenomenon….salad.

Across from every Starbucks seems to be a Just Salads, a Sweet Green or a Fresh & Co featuring quite a few choices, and can’t say I’m too sorry since I patronize all three, favoring the latter.

For around 10 bucks you get a bowl of the green of your choice Elsie would be very content with.  They have names like, California Cobb that’s got mushrooms, cucumbers and blue cheese. Then there’s the Old West, well, that’s what I call it, with kidney beans, corn and avocado, all drizzled with a slew of various organic dressings.

This is how I’ve come to be a kale girl, the Grace Kelly of greens. After all the lettuce terror going on, it seems the safest, but also healthiest, which is how I got into a forced discussion on E. Coli with a woman I so wanted to belt.

Fresh & Co is pleasant, but still a fast food eatery…chairs not quite comfy, tables a bit too close together, to discourage their patrons from spending the afternoon, unlike Starbucks who besieges you like co-dependent parents.

I normally get my salad to go but not today. A soon to be revealed mistake.

I squeeze in next to two women. One is a pretty Latino lady happily eating an avocado and cheddar panini, another thing they make, casually dressed and not on her phone, so we love her immediately.

The other woman, very Upper East Side, her engagement ring the size of a macaroon, is texting between bites of her panini that has lipstick across it.

I’m the only salad eater of the 3.

Macaroon turns two me and says, “Haven’t you seen the news? You shouldn’t be eating lettuce.”

I say nicely, “It’s kale, not lettuce…of the cabbage family,” sounding like Julia Child. She shakes her head, her hair hardly moving and says, “It’s green isn’t it? You have to be really stupid to be eating it.”

In 12 Step they encourage…not to pick up the rope, meaning, don’t engage with assholes, but sometimes that rope is just too tempting not to twirl.

“So let me ask you, money’s green, maybe you shouldn’t be spending it because it might give you a terrible disease, if it hasn’t already, ya know, like rudeness.”

The other woman starts to giggle.

“I don’t think what she said to me was so funny,” said Macaroon, her forehead so Botoxed it couldn’t properly rise nor wrinkle to the occasion.

The lady starts laughing harder.

So then I start laughing to the point where the two of us are practically in tears.

Needless to say, there was suddenly much more room at our table when you know who gathered her Gucci satchel with the matching iPhone case and flounced out.

The other lady said to me, “I’m comin here more often, for the entertainment.”

We then had coffee and cookies together, her treat, so one could say, I sang for my salad. 🙂


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A Nutty Word.

I’m on a novel kick these days, a real change from memoir and historical bios.

I’m so enjoying the language, like the word chestnut, I found twice in two different books.

Not the nut roasting on an open fire, but the term for an ancient anecdote told by Grampa or Uncle Sam at every holiday, getting just a little bigger and longer each time.

Reminds me of the Lucy episode when she stands behind Ethel, lip-syncing, knowing by heart, the life story of little Ethel Mae Potter.

Abraham Lincoln was known for his chestnuts, yarns he told over and over again with renewed oomph in every telling.

Webster’s definition…a joke or story that’s become tedious because of its constant repetition; a myth, fable or legend.  

That same saga inspiring eye-rolling around the dinner table.

Oh no, not again!

Apocryphal can also be applied meaning, of doubtful authenticity though widely circulated as being true.

Richard Gere canoodling with hamsters, or The Loch Nest Monster mooning the Scottish Highlands.

Folklore, passed through generations by word of mouth.

Did your mother really meet Errol Flynn? Turned out it was his cousin who years later, miraculously turned into him.

It’s like my ex, after he had had a few belts saying, that he ate lunch every Saturday with Yoko Ono at a popular Japanese restaurant.  Yes, they both sat at the sushi bar, but at opposite ends, never exchanging a word.

Another woman I once worked for told me she too had lunch, but with Alec Baldwin. What she didn’t mention was, so did 300 others because it was a charity event in The Hamptons.

Chestnuts are usually harmless exaggerations meant to entertain.

Oral history with a twinkle…an old wives’ tale, with a wink.




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There’s a Whole Lotta Shakin Goin On

I’m en route to get my hair done after waking up resembling a rat with an explosion of gray hair. All I need is a tail and a nice hunk’a cheese.

As I tool down Amsterdam Avenue, a shamatta on my head, I see a Pitbull with one bigger than mine loping towards me alongside an imposing fella with his Yankee cap turned backwards.

Now remember, I’m the one who pops into the lion’s cage and says, here kitty, kitty, so the size of this doggie or his owner for that matter, hardly stands in my way of stopping to chat.

“Awe, look at him, ” I say, as though he were a poodle. “Is he a morning person? Ya know, is he friendly?”

“Oh yeah, he looves people.”

“What’s his name?”

Now between my hearing loss and the jackhammering on the corner, I ask him three times.

Ulvis,” he keeps saying.

After my third who, he starts wiggling his hips.

“You know, Ulvis.”

“Elvis? You mean there’s a whole lotta shaking goin on Elvis?”

He laughs while 4-legged Elvis ambles over to say hi, his chest the size of a beer keg.

He’d come, run away, then come back again.

“He shy,” his dad says.

The love between them makes Timmy and Lassie look like amateurs.  After a good ten minute visit, I leave with such a smile becoming contagious every time I think of those wiggling hips

People smile back, having no idea I’m beaming because…

I had just met the King.

Thank ya, thank ya vera much…:)    


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Why I Love Little Kids

 Because they remind me to lighten the fuck up and smell the roses.

You see a baby in a stroller, cooing and gurgling, having a grand old time in the moment needing so little for their amusement, like playing with their feet.  Who needs a mobile when your tootsies are available.

Babies are happy…content, committed to self-care.  Napping when needed, having mini meals throughout the day.

They are also good-natured, never minding being changed even in public, grinning as if to say, “Yeah, was feelin a little damp there, so good goin.”

Have you ever noticed how easily babies make friends? It’s as if they’re running for office, collecting votes.   

I always stop sidling up to a carriage, peeking inside.  Yesterday I met Saul in just his Pampers, very Gandhiesque, his bald head matching his diaper.

I guess when you come right down to it, all babies look and act like Mr. Gandhi in his loin cloth chanting, be the change you want to see, or at least, make sure you get changed so you don’t offend anybody.

They’re tiny teachers, simple souls not yet tainted by life’s twists and turns, happy just to be, growing quickly like wise, little weeds.

Next time I see Saul, he’ll be sitting up looking out slapping his knee thinking, to think I missed all this snoozing.

He’ll then graduate from his bottle to a plastic baggie of Cherios he’ll munch while cheerfully studying the scenery.

He’ll remind me to HALT, a 12 Step (and baby) acronym that asks…are you…hungry, angry, lonely or tired?

That’s when I’ll know it’s time for either a nap, a walk in nature or my very own bag of Cherios, and a good laugh.      



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Best Story of the Week…TAXI!

A man I do some work for with a bad back, asked if I’d meet his flight at Kennedy, offering to pay generously to help with his bags.

I would have done so anyway, played porter just to be kind, but since he more than has the means I gladly accepted the offer.

It’s 4 a.m., I hail a cab that pulls up to the curb like a bright yellow chariot.

A hardy, African American man behind the wheel says, like in the movies, “Where to lady?”

“Kennedy, will you take me?”  Even though it’s against the law to say no, sometimes they just don’t want to go that far, but he says, “Sure, get in.”

I then ask if he’d please stop so I can get coffee, “for the both of us,” I say, “my treat.”

Mac, the name gleaming off the dash, looks at me curiously, but agrees. I hop out at an all-night bodega on Third, and get us two cups of an inky blend and two buttered hard rolls.

We proceed to the airport arriving in no time, making me an hour early.

He says, “I’ll wait with ya if ya want,” even after I pay him.

Come to find out, Mac lives in Queens not far from Kennedy with his wife Cecily and their two kids, Marvin and Lily, a German Shepherd called Mandela, and a cat named Trix. “Ya know, like the cereal,” he says, “ma kids named her.”

He goes to DeVry University during the day and drives all night so Cecily can be a stay-at-home mom.

“That’s what’s wrong wit families that don’t plan right,” he says, “the kids…they gotta have somebody home or ya know they’ll get in ta some kinda trouble. Theys’ kids.”

Come to find out we’re both readers, To Kill a Mockingbird his favorite book. He doesn’t drink, drug or swear in front of his children.

He sends his mother money, back in Belize.

He then says, “Ya know lady, I’ve been drivin this cab for 11 years, and no one ever bought me a cuppa coffee ba’fore.”

“Really?” I say, kind of surprised. “Well ya know Mac, maybe you’ve just been pickin up the wrong people.”

“Yeah,” he says, smiling, “maybe so,” as we silently finish our coffee, and eat the last of our rolls.

Just one more New York story.   


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Following Susannah

I’m frequently asked how is it, I have so many stories to share?

Why am I always engaging with strangers?

Just so you know, I thought about this long and hard before responding.

It’s the writer in me…it’s where my avid curiosity comes from.

I’ve also read a lot about journalists, writers who started their careers conjuring up leads for demanding newspapers, achieving this by paying attention. Nora Ephron, an idol of mine, began that way as did my other hero, Pete Hamill.

Then of course you have those who stayed cloaked in columns till they could write no more.

Mary McGrory coming to mind.

It’s also why I make it a point to read Peggy Noonan’s op-ed every Saturday in the Wall Street Journal since her observations tickle the mind and prod the imagination.

Walt Whitman was famous for talking to those he didn’t know. Could be why he said, “Don’t be judgmental, be curious instead,” advice I take along in my travels.

Toss in my commitment to this blog I’ve always treated like a paying job, and engaging with passersby seems to be a rite of passage, no pun intended.

So, that’s my well thought about answer to why I’m always in the thick of situations no one else seems too concerned about.

As my writer friend David Stewart had printed on little rubber bracelets, for those moments of doubt and confusion….


SB  🙂




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