Friday, December 16, 2011

In the break room at work today, two women sat at a table. Fresh faced, sexy, project managerly types. As I passed by, I heard one say to the other:

"So now who's the douche?"

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

I Did Not Know You Loved Me

There was a man swinging his kid beside me and Sophia at the park. About a four-year-old, I guess. The dad spoke with an aristocratic-sounding Spanish accent. I could only hear his side of their conversation. It went like this:

"Michael, what would you like for dinner? Pizza? Would you like fries?"

"Would you like French fries for dinner, Michael? Would you like French fries?"

The chains creaked with each thrust of the man's hand.

"What would you like for dinner? French fries? Michael. What would you like for dinner?"

"Michael. Would you like French fries for dinner? Yes? Or no?"

"Would you like French fries, Michael? For dinner? French fries with ketchup."

"Thank you Michael. I did not know you loved me."

"What would you like for dinner, Michael? Answer me. Would you like some French fries?"

"Yes or no, Michael. Would you like to have French fries for dinner?"

I picked Soph up out of the swing and we looked up to watch a plane go by. Then I put her in her stroller to go home.

Pyramids Come From a Million Years Ago

I stepped onto the A train after work, late at night. It was crowded but for one of those deceptive oases of empty seats that always surrounds some offense just foul enough to keep the weary on their feet. A leaking bottle. A pile of puke. This time it was a piss-soaked man. Those nearest him covered their noses with the collars of their shirts, eyed him warily and tittered amongst themselves. One last, intrepid holdout finally got up and walked away, leaving an entire bench to the bum, who stretched his arms up happily, perhaps victoriously, and sprawled across the seats.

I switched to the F at Jay Street and this time there was an angry drunk.

"Never mind, never mind, I'll shut up now," I heard him say to a woman and her two young daughters. There was an Indian man nearby.

"Fucking curry-eating motherfucker," shouted the drunk, who was light skinned but not quite white. Maybe Hispanic, Mediterranean. Could have been North African. His worn jeans seemed to be dotted with dried blood.

He began to conflate Indians with Native Americans. "You Indian motherfuckers, we took your land."

The woman and her girls got off and I sat down. I wanted both to be near this man and far away. Everyone else was studiously ignoring him. Trying to do normal things like read the paper. Breathe.

"In Africa, they got pyramids!" he shouted. "Listen to me!" He slid forward on the bench and pounded his soda bottle in the middle of the floor. "They got, they got, they got pyramids no fuckin' nuclear bomb can touch." He laughed a little. "Fuckin' people don't understand. They got pyramids, come from a million years ago."

He sat back and grumbled for a while. My stop was coming up. Seventh Ave. Before I got up he turned to the Chinese guy sitting beside him.

"An' this little yellow Chinese motherfucker right here..." he drawled menacingly.

I got out and walked toward the stairs. A few moments later the train moved again, and I wondered what I'd see when the car came by. One man standing over another, arms swinging madly, onlookers aghast?

I turned around to see. The troublemaker sat alone, apparently silent, looking through the other window at the dark.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

I stood in the aisle with the analgesics. Scrutinizing the rows and rows of little boxes, looking for some generic naproxen sodium. Sophia sat in the baby carrier on my chest, her head tilted up at the drop-tile ceiling. I perceived a mild commotion nearby. A bearded man with glasses held out his hands and waved them gently, as though he were expecting to be passed a basketball. He murmured something unintelligible. I stared at him. He turned around and walked away.

On the way out the store he passed me as I fed her a bottle. He said something else. Something else I couldn’t understand. Maybe it was the same thing as before.

The Enterprise - 33

Robyn lived alone in some rundown flat near Port Authority. I imagined a bare room lit by a single, overhead bulb. Mattress on the floor. She got in late one day and I asked her why on instant message. She said she’d been in court fighting her landlord. It was one of those dreary, murky disagreements—a dilapidated building, kept up on the cheap; she got fed up, quit paying rent. He shut off her heat. So she’d taken a cold shower and charged downtown to sue the bastard.

There we were typing at each other, separated by the sculpture and the potted ferns. I knew she was sitting over there at her cluttered desk. Typing at me just as I typed back at her. Words and the spaces in between. I had to admit I was drawn to her purple highlit hair and tired eyes, her mania, her discombobulation. At the end of our exchange I asked her out to dinner.

We went to a chic French bistro on Park Ave. I don’t remember what we talked about. Work. The people at work. We got in a cab together, after. She laid her head on my lap with a sigh, playing it like she was too drunk and tired to sit up. And maybe she was. But there she was. Head heavy on my thigh. Her hair splayed over me, over my arm and the vinyl seat. Purple strands glinted in the passing lamplight. I could smell it—a warm and faintly bitter fragrance. The smell of an unfamiliar woman. Why didn’t I kiss her? Why didn’t I touch her? I don’t know why. But I didn’t. The cab pulled up on 43rd Street and she got out. As we pulled away I watched as she hunched over the lock to her building’s scuffed and dented metal door.