I had spent a week looking to buy a pocket comb to replace a comb I had lost. No one seemed to sell them. I have tried several Duane Reade and CVS stores. Maybe it was a supply chain problem.
Finally, I caved and bought an assortment pack of 20 combs at a drugstore chain on John Street. It had multicolored combs of all widths, shapes and sizes. Some had handles and spike ends. There were even a few pocket-sized.
“This is great,” the cashier said, calling me. “You lose combs all the time.”
I told him I only wanted to buy one comb, but no one was selling singles.
“I need a comb,” he said. “Can I buy one of these for a dollar?”
I happily opened the package.
“You choose which one,” he said.
I gave him a large one with a handle and widely spaced teeth. I refused the dollar bill he tried to hand me.
“This is perfect,” he said.
As I left the store, it occurred to me that he had a very cropped crew cut.
— Ed Fitzelle
(Central Park, 9:00 AM)
I hadn’t breathed
of my tendons
an old man-
and a melody
— Rolli Anderson
I waited for a taxi that would take me from an emergency room near Lincoln Square to a nearby emergency room. I had fallen the night before leaving the theater, shattering my knee and face on the sidewalk.
After endless waiting I saw a lone taxi stop at a red light. The driver indicated that he would pick me up as soon as the light changed.
Then, in a clear violation of taxi etiquette, a man maybe 20 years younger than me jumped into the street in front of me. He saw me and must have realized I was waiting for the taxi. He clearly didn’t care, because when the light turned green, he boldly jumped in.
I was angry. Then the unthinkable happened.
The taxi came to me, the taxi thief opened the door, asked where I was going, invited me in, waited as I stumbled aboard and told the driver to take me where I was going, what a few blocks from this man.
He told me he was late for a doctor’s appointment and asked how I had been injured.
I said I fell after I left the theater. He asked if I worked in the theater and said his wife did.
When we got to the emergency room, he didn’t accept money for the ride and only asked for one thing in return: he wanted me to tell his wife what I told him: that he was the nicest person who ever stole a taxi from me .
“She needs proof that I’m nice sometimes,” he said.
I didn’t get his name or his wife’s, but hopefully she reads this.
— Gwen Marcus
Walking the dog
It was the early 1990s and my husband had just published his first novel. His editor insisted that we stay with him and his partner in their spacious Upper West Side apartment. It was between Zabar’s and Central Park and had a clear view of the Empire State.
As new guests, we tried to contribute where possible, including by walking their huge, furry white dog Ripley.
Ripley, it turned out, was known by name all over the neighborhood. Everyone wanted to pet her and she loved any kind of attention.
On one of our outings, we crossed paths with an elegantly dressed woman in high heels who quickly clicked to the subway.
“What kind is it?” I heard her ask.
“She’s a Samoyed!” I replied proudly. Bewildered, the woman repeated her question.
“A Sa-MOY-ed,” I said in an exaggerated way.
She waved me off and ran off on her heels.
When I turned to my husband, he smiled double.
“She asked, ‘What? time is it?’” he said as he regained his composure.
— Jeffrey P. Smith
One hot summer morning, I squeezed next to a woman on the B train, opened my book, and tapped my earplugs. The book demanded attention.
I heard my fellow passenger sing. Normally I would be annoyed by this, but I soon realized that the woman had a beautiful voice. I resisted the urge to respond and kept reading instead.
When we got to my stop, I got up and turned to face her. She smiled.
“Sorry,” she said.
“Yes,” I replied. Frankly, I expected her to compliment me on my dress, a dress I wear often.
“What’s your book called?”
I was suprised.
“The anomaly,” I said. “It’s really good.”
“I know,” she said, “I read a page over your shoulder.”
— Vanessa Spray
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Illustrations by Agnes Lee