If the best of all possible worlds were reality, I wouldn’t have to shave. My nails would be long and manicured. Polish wouldn’t chip. If the best of all possible worlds were reality, I would be a mother of healthy children, a wife, and a writer. I would live in a new house, with steam showers, full tubs, and dimmer light switches. I’d have land, a pool, a hot tub. I’d have a lovely SUV, and no one would ever suggest a minivan. I would be connected in a deep meaningful way to my husband, and we would keep our marriage a priority and a goal throughout our lives together. We would have trust, respect, and friendship. If the best of all possible worlds were reality, I could eat anything and as much of any foods and I would still be thin, look muscular, defined, and have my health. I would never have to exercise to keep fit and healthy. If the best of all possible worlds were reality, I would have close friends, as I do now, who I could grow old with, and live close to, counting on one another to be our memories. If the best of all possible worlds were reality, there would be no traffic, no slow people, no fear, no dead ends, no deadlines, no office politics or stress. There would be no disagreements or disappointments. Life would be fair. Karma would work. If the best of all possible worlds were reality, people I admired would adore me. I’d feel content and happy with my place in life–I would believe in and follow my purpose in life. I wouldn’t have questions. I’d have an inner therapist that would come out like a little angel who whispers to an ear in the cartoons. There would be no cartoon devil. The inner therapist would point things out to me, and make me aware. I would not act out of fear. I would be strong. I would not be needy. I would love myself–be proud, and I’d have no insecurity. If the best of all possible worlds were reality, my windows would keep out the cold air, and even on nights like these, I could sleep in silky nightgowns instead of socks, sweatpants, and a Duke sweatshirt from my past. If the best of all possible worlds were reality, I could plan menus, write selective restaurant reviews and preview all movies I wanted to see before they were released to theatres. If the best of all possible worlds were reality, Linus would always be tired when I was. If the best of all possible worlds were reality, I could have many rooms, beautifully decorated with charming, thoughful touches. Fresh flowers by the bed, lavender sachets in drawers, high thread count sheets, light switches by the headboard of a bed. Something akin to seat-heaters in a car, but for the house. I’d have company that I loved come to visit, and we’d sit indian-style by the fireplace, and drink sauvignon blanc from new zealand, and we’d laugh, and cling, and make savory memories. Aftertaste. There would be no dishes or cleaning to be done. I’d have a “royal packer” to pack and unpack my bags for travel. If the best of all possible worlds were reality, my space would be warm, comfortable, organized and clean. Bright, but dark where it needed it, like in my bedroom on the weekends only, and in the movie theatre I’d have in my home. If I were in Manhattan, as I am now, I would own stairs. I’d have built in bookshelves with a sliding ladder. I’d have enormous (well-insulated) windows with views. I’d have too many walk-in closets that even had space for a chaise. If the best of all possible worlds were reality, I’d have a husband who was intellectually stimulating, who supported me, who made me laugh until I cried, who would cherish me, who I would deeply cherish back. If the best of all possible worlds were reality, people wouldn’t lie or cheat. If the best of all possible worlds were reality, I would never have to say good-bye to the people or places or things that I loved. They would always be there, where I left them, like artifacts.
I have a mouthful of sushi–cool avocado explodes on my cheek. Beads of rice tucked under my upper lip, the sting of ginger on my tongue, toasted sesame seeds, the bounce of raw salmon. I’m sitting on a red stool in Rice Bowl surrounded by loud-talking girls. Yum, cucumber too. A cell phone rings, a gust of cold air as delivery man exists, fistful of bags, hat drawn down covering his eyebrows. Gloves thick. A black-haired Drew Barrymore type wipes down fake wooden tables with a square rag, pushing in chairs, a red bandana on her head, almost a nurse hat, saving the floors from crumbs. Her pants are too long, dragging on the long wooden floors. Her walk is a shuffle. When does her shift end? Does she only clean and serve, or is she learning to cut razor thin slices of ginger, pink and translucent like the insides of ears. Tempura shrimp in a metal tin beneath heat lamps, lined up like rows of gondalas in Venice, stuck in the light, waiting to be chosen. Too bad he’s married, mister black cashmere overcoat, designer glasses, cute smile, dimples. I saw his ring when he pointed to the brown rice. He takes his meal to a nook, in the front, stooling it facing out onto the street, at the wall of glass. The steam from his tea fogs up the window. I see his reflection. I love this about New York. How I can find a space and make it mine, in my head, it’s safe and I’m suddenly an observer, and I can see families and friends, and the guy eating alone, facing the street with the taxis and the woman running in next door for her quick pick ticket. Even the ugly girl sitting under me, on a regular chair, slurping her noodle soup, telling the ugly man she is wild about the new man she is dating. Even ugly people date. And it’s New York, and I’ll be having tea soon, and suddenly, it’s okay. None of us are alone in this. A daughter sits with her divorced father. Braces, clean-faced, green knitted hoodie, she eats chicken off a thin stick. Dad rubs his hands clean with a napkin, like he’s removing a stain from the carpet. Perhaps she’s telling him about school, asking if she is old enough to date or shave her legs. I’m too far away to hear, but they look happy, even though they’re not at home, at a kitchen table with a mother, even though they are broken. I’m getting full. Beneath the “Salads & Sushi Here” sign is a make your own salad bar, except it’s not make your own, it’s pick your own, and they make it for you. Toss. Toss. A cafeteria lineup. Metal tongs, appear to be floating wishbones, are plunged into bins of shredded carrots, diced celery, quartered beets, marinated tofu squares. I love avocado. I want to go home, nurture my inner compass, make myself a cup of tea, call it a spot, crawl under the covers in my cashmere socks and write. Time for the gloves, the scarf and the coat. Time to leave Rice Bowl, and go to my home, to make dinner for Linus, to let him lick up my nose. Time to go home.
My curls were separate and soft when I was younger. I remember my childhood as if all I ever wore were blue overalls. I traveled in strollers, a cushy blue and white polka-dot stroller some days and ordinary cotton sack strollers on more casual days. Asleep in a stroller holding one of those shiny plastic balls sold in steel bins at the supermarket. An apple juice box nestled in the crack of space between the side of my leg and the stroller. Right there, in that moment, that was my childhood. That’s how I remember it, asleep, calm, just peace. Now, men look at me on the street. Yell things like “Hey Red, boy would I like a piece of that.” And I cannot find the kind of peace I used to have when people paid no attention to me, or rather, I was able to pay no attention to them. On warm summer evenings, I remember lying upstairs, with a sheet for a blanket, the window open, listening to the crickets, the muffled television from down the hall, and Mother’s company laughing downstairs. When the air-conditioner was in the shop for servicing, we had to soak our white cotton sheets in a basin of water, wring them out, and stretch them across our mattresses; they would help us keep cool. Lemon water, dining beneath awnings, dog runs, jam jars filled with wild flowers, fireflies, scribbles of cloud, light sweaters, kites, capri pants with paten leather J.P. Todds, Jersey tomatoes, sunflowers, freckles and sticky Solarcain skin, blond highlights, cherries, sprinklers, lemonade stands. At least there are winter coats, and boots, gloves, muffs. Something to hide me. Stop looking. Sat in the bathroom stall at work today and cried. I didn’t go to the bathroom to cry; I went to pee. But as I relaxed, tears just came flooding out, bleeding into the gray cracks of the tiles at my feet. I was not meant to do this with my life. I should be following my dreams. I saw a woman who was settling for less, and I didn’t like what I saw. My dream is to write, and I’m going to do it.
Long before my sister Lea and I began to bicker over the rules of calling “Shotgun,” we were comfortable in the back seat of our Mother’s cars. Just about every year it was a different car. A rental. Neglected looking, used, maroon or pale blue, cars that Mother called “jalopies.” I believe a factor in my parents’ divorce were all of those National Car Rental heaps. My father always had the latest model two-door Cadillac; they smelled like leather. Our mother was stuck with a four-door station wagon, or even worse, a Pinto with bucket seats and torn “pleather” patched with duct tape colored to match. Lea and I liked the station wagons. We’d fold down the middle seat and sprawl out on our backs, putting our bare feet against the cool glass trunk door. Watching the heat from our feet make disappearing prints on the glass. On long car rides, after the excitement of grooming and playing with our Barbies wore off, after making obscene gestures at the passengers in other cars, and once the string for Cats & Cradles became knotted, Lea and I would fight. At first it was playful. When my mother would turn the car up a ramp or along the sway of a road, I’d exaggerate gravity and shove Lea against the door. She’d do it, too, but she was smaller and didn’t weigh as much as I did. We laughed and shoved until it got painful. Lea would begin to moan, scream, and laugh again. This went on for a while punctuated with our mother’s occasional warnings that she was going to drop us off on the side of the road if we didn’t “Cut it out!” One day, I remember finally yelling at her to go ahead and do it. I must have done something to really get to her because I remember not wanting to get out of the car as soon as she stopped it short. She actually got out of the car and tried to rip me out of it. I was screaming, red, and trying to grip onto the roof of the car from the inside as I kicked at her. She finally did rip me out onto the ground, slammed the car door, and left me sitting there on the hot tar road, tiny pebbles sticking to my thighs. Lea was screaming, hair in her mouth, and I remember looking down at the ground when she drove the car off. An ant crawled over my fingernail.
Witches always had a mean black cat that hissed and was too skinny. A cackle. A dark cloak and a straw broom. A pointed hat with a wide brim, a crooked hook nose, and of course a fat wart with long hairs growing out of it. That’s what witches were when I was small… creatures that with their green tinted skin appeared on All Hallow’s Eve, in movies, cartoons, and bedtime stories. Now, they appear to us in our everyday lives, waiting for the bus, sitting beside us in a movie theatre, even in the hospital waiting room. The woman at the bank, in a rush, sighing and squinting behind me on line, tapping her foot as I rummage through my handbag for a pen to sign the withdrawal slip. The mother at the diner, who ground out her cigarette on her teenage daughter’s plate and told her she has, “eaten enough, just look at your thighs spreading as you eat.” We all from time to time posses a bit of witch in us, but thankfully, when we were young we learned of good witches, too. The idea that when everything around us seemed cold and gray, and that when even our favorite blankets weren’t big enough to keep us safe, there was always someone, something, looking after us. It works both ways.
In a relationship I try to follow these rules: • I will try my hardest not to overreact, as I tend to do in life. • I will only deal with one issue at a time, without introducing topics or incidents from the past, as hard as it might seem. • I will never attack any of his vulnerabilities, or hurt him in order to have the last word by being sarcastic or calling him names. • I will always respect and keep the trust with which he has entrusted me. • I will try to avoid sweeping generalizations like “you always” and “you never.” • Before I start in I will ask myself what exactly is bothering me and what do I expect and want him to do about it. I will offer compromise and think about possible outcomes that would be acceptable. I will try to remember that the idea is not to “win” but to be kind and come to a solution we can both live with. • Most of all, I will try to improve my listening skills. I will try to be careful not to interrupt him and to genuinely hear his concerns and feelings. • I will accept responsibility for a problem that I might have with him, realizing that “we” have a problem, not just “you” have a problem. • I will always be loyal to him and our relationship first and foremost. • I will always make sure that his needs are being met as long as they are communicated to me. • I will continually work on letting go of the past to heal my heart and mind. • I will never, ever, fight with him in front of our children (god-willing) • Instead of telling him that I am pissed or angry, I will replace it with the more telling emotions of fear, hurt, or frustration. In the meanwhile, since I’m not in a relationship right now, I’ll try to work on my issue of Insecurity. My issue, the need to feel love. The addiction to adoration as my drug of choice. I wasn’t daddy’s little girl, and to compensate, I became seexually active very young, became a serial monogamist. Needy for adoration. When I date it’s not a problem. My whole life I’ve measured my self-worth with men loving me. Tripping over themselves to tell me how fabulous I am. I guess I’m lucky that way. It’s also a curse because I never learned to feel great about myself without a man… I guess I did… I made myself feel great through other men when my father didn’t make me feel that way. Still it was never me on my own. In my relationships I’ve been very independent yet dependent. I have my own friends. I’m active with them. I have a support network of family and friends who are always available to listen. I’ve got my own interests of photography, my work, anything creative, and when that all falls short, I use the energy to take care of the person I’m with. Look up recipes they might like, plan fun dates, or fun surprise gift ideas. I’m nurturing and understanding, sensitive and emotionally available. I get dependent (or needy) when I feel insecure. If we’re fighting or not having seex, I get so crazed to fix things… I think because I’m not getting my way, and I end up acting out to try to get my way. Or I try to make him feel bad, punish him so he feels as frustrated as I do, because then I think I might get the love and adoration I’m seeking, but through fear. I wanted to be my ex’s sole attention… even when he wasn’t with me, I wanted him to miss me and think of me often. I hated when he would say he wanted to do something else like go play golf. Me me me. I wanted adoration. And I punished him when he didn’t give it enough. And it was never enough, eventually. And we know how that turned out. And now, I see myself repeating the same thing. Less so though because I trust him. I don’t get jealous if he wants to hang with his friends. I do care though that he doesn’t necessarily want alone time with me as much as I do. I have a problem with “recency.” Only focusing on the past 3 days, fixate on that, and then try to run instead of looking at the universal picture, the us we have been, the he that he has been… and I’m ready to throw it away.
More people come to this site to learn what a cleveland steamer is than those searching for a seexy New York City blogger. Well I tell you what. You can have both. A Cleveland Steamer: when someone takes a dump on your chest. A dirty Sanchez: when an index finger is swiped along or inserted in the ass, then wiped across your partner’s top lip for a lovely whiff… leaving a mexican moustache… or a “Dirty Sanchez.” A Jersey Turnpike: a finger up the tush, then placing that finger in your partner’s mouth. (If you accidentaly pick your nose at some point with that abusive finger, it’s called, “Getting off at Newark.”) A Felcher: when cum is slurped from an asshole post anal seex (sometimes with a straw) The interesting bit here, is Reebok aired a Terry Tate Commercial using all these references. Now if you want to read a great real story click here. The Original not quite the clevaland steamer post read this way: Okay, so I stepped in a pile of dog shite today. Perhaps you’re thinking it happened on the street, and it’s akin to being shat on by a pigeon. What luck. Actually, more realistically, you’re probably sinisterly wringing your hands doing that evil graduated laugh as you twist your mustache. Okay, maybe not. In fact, it was a glob on my bedroom floor, beside my pristine bed, a good morning steaming present from the Lineman. I was barefoot. Apparently giving him milk past its expiration date doesn’t really make him retro after all.
Mine Each time it’s the same. A fight starts it; a fight ends it. Can’t you go without me, why do we have to spend so much time with them? Not so much time is repeated in my voice, exaggerated back to me. Leaky mascara. Things are slammed; outfits are tried, talked through with girlfriends over the phone. The reinforcements come in, caffeine and digital camera in hand. I look fat flutters around a room. Hands damp, why isn’t he putting his arm around me, how could he leave me there talking to her to get a damn score. Get back here you ass. Parental anxiety. Then back to it again after a breakup. It’s not sudden, your caring so much what his parents think. You feared their disproval when you met them; you fear their I told you sos even now, with every sight of him gone. Mom’s It was as bad as being told God dislikes you: the scene at my paternal grandparents’ house the day my father was announcing his engagement to my mother. He had rehearsed something to say the night before when he was trying to sleep; it started with asking his parents to sit down. But when he and my mother arrived in Forest Hills on that slate of November morning, the housekeeper Vernell answered the door, and his parents were already seated at the dining room table. Grandpa was thumbing through the Times in a dark v-neck sweater. My mother was surprised that he was bald. My grandmother was hollering about how he had better not get any of that silvery newspaper ink on her Venetian lace tablecloth as Vernell took their coats. Mother felt awkward but was thankful that she insisted on carrying in the white box of pastries they stopped for on their ride over to the house. Her hands were wet. “Don’t get up.” Dad said as if he were convinced they were going to. His mother put her cheek out for him to kiss, and his father briefly put down the paper and shook his son’s hand. “This is Yolanda.” Dad said as he awkwardly swung his arm around her shoulders and squeezed. Mother hated her outfit at that moment. Her blouse was pulling at the bust, and her bra was too tight. It cut her breasts into four sections. If I were alive and there, I would have pointed. “It’s nice to finally meet you both.” Mom hated the sound of her voice. She felt the heat of Dad’s hand on her shoulder. She didn’t know what to do next. She handed the white box to Mrs. Klein with a smile and stepped back politely. “Donald, what does she mean by finally? How long have you been hiding her from us?” Grandma looked just like her restricted voice. Everything about her was tight. Her hair was pulled back so tightly that she looked like she needed help blinking. She penciled in her eyebrows, and Mom tried not to stare but she thought it strange that she had no eyebrows. None. She was wearing a black turtleneck with a heavy pearl necklace resting over it. “Way too big. Very gauche.” I would have said. “Vernell.” She did not wait for an answer. Vernell came shuffling into the dining room in slippers carrying a kettle of hot water. And without instruction, she poured my grandmother another cup of water for her tea. “Well sit down, sit down.” Mrs. Klein demanded as she waved her arms to the two chairs, one on each side of her. “Please help yourselves. I don’t know what you eat anymore Donald.” “This all looks great.” “Does Yolanda like lox with her bagel?” Mother knew, just then, that Dad had already told her that she wasn’t Jewish. “It’s just salmon dear.” “Yolanda eats anything. She’s not picky.” “I had hoped I could say the opposite of you my boy.” She said under her breath, but loud enough for my mother to hear. “Would you two like Mimosa’s with your brun—?” Vernell interjected. “No, Vernell.” Grandma snapped. “I told you she can’t drink.” And with that comment, Mother was unsure if she somehow got the impression that mom was genetically inclined to be an alcoholic because maybe Dad might have mentioned that Popoo drank Vodka with his toast and eggs in the morning. Would he tell her that? “Uuuh, Mom, Dad, before we dig in, I just want to say,” he put his napkin on his lap, “that I brought Yolanda here because I want to introduce you to the woman I am marrying.” Mom closed her eyes and waited. “Yes, we know that dear. You told me on the phone. This one is just like his father…always a production.” Grandma said. She swung her legs around…
Because my mother is Puerto Rican, my grandmother Beatrice was convinced that I was going to come out of the womb black. Beatrice is my father’s mother; she crosses her legs, knits sweaters, and reads the Times. My mother is a thin white woman with auburn hair who looks every bit Protestant, but that’s just because she shops in Garden City of Long Island. From the way my father tells the story of my birth, though, everyone in the hospital knew she was Puerto Rican. Puerto Ricans believe that the louder the woman screams during labor, the more beautiful the baby will be. My mother Yolanda screamed as if she hadn’t had two glasses of white wine when she began her contractions. Imagine my grandmother’s surprise when I came out looking like a cute little devil. (Redheads are never spoken of as sweet angels no matter how cute we are.) The day I was born was the first day my grandparents began speaking with my parents again. My father refused to accept the bribe of a corvette and a country club membership if he did not marry my mother. Since he turned his parents offer down and chose my mother as his family, telephone lines were cut. Then there was an announcement made that Stephanie Tara was born at 4:38 p.m., 6 lbs. 4 oz. Once my grandmother saw that I was indeed white, she offered to throw a baby shower. A baby shower, unlike a wedding, is a place where people should not feel insulted. It’s never the case that this one cannot believe that you thought she should be seated at the very same table as that one. Showers truly are celebrations… except when you mingle my mother’s family with my father’s.
• I love the way he tells a story • Not commitment-phobic • Nurturing, sensitive and gentle • Well educated / intellectually stimulating • Funny/witty smart humor (not at the expense of others’ feelings) • Hearty seexual appetite, but not so much so that he is willing to stray • Successful and driven yet will always put family first: Family oriented but not to a fault… realizes that “our” family comes before either of our own families. Not a mamma’s boy. • Non-yeller, should know how to fight fair… not call me names or bring up insecurities. • He has stones and knows how to throw them. • He’ll know to show up in the middle of the night if we’re fighting on the phone. He wouldn’t want us to spend any holidays apart. • He doesn’t smoke, ever. • He’ll show up just because. He won’t worry about pride. He’ll want to be with me. Period. • I shouldn’t wonder and question what he thinks or feels: open communicator… A man who knows how to tell me things I don’t want to hear. Should be a man who doesn’t tiptoe around when he’s afraid to say something. He should say, “fcuk what anyone else thinks…this is my woman.” Someone who adores me, thinks of me all the time, and doesn’t show his love with words alone but with actions, too. • Should love me just a smidge more: He must gush over me. I need to know that he adores me, thinks I’m a goddess, and that he would do anything in his power to ensure my happiness. He must put “the unit” first. • He should call. He should know when to call. He shouldn’t make me anxious, and he should know how to relieve it…but only if he means it. Shouldn’t do it just to make me feel better temporarily. I shouldn’t feel jealous or insecure, because I should feel it deep within my bones during those times, that he would never ever ruin us. • It should be friendship, not games. If he isn’t flooding me with love and showering me with affection, I should still enjoy his company. He should genuinely make me laugh out loud, since I don’t do that often. I should feel a deep sense of connectivity. • We’ll have fights; he’ll understand my drama. We’ll continue on, us against the world. But always an us, a team of two. • Picks me up for dates, plans things for us to do, makes reservations. • Likes watching movies, eating, and drinking wine. • Likes Linus. • He’s introspective and not afraid of changing what he wants to. • He’s a whole person, who has things to teach me. I know I probably can’t have everything; there’s a bit about compromise. I also know sometimes what we think we want isn’t really what we want deep down. I have a strong sense he’ll be creative, not necessarily for a living, and he’ll have energy. He’ll teach me things and ADD to the relationship. Never doubt your instincts, but be aware of familiarity breeding unhealthy dependencies.
Okay, so I have a stimulating job. As long as we’re agreed on that, I’ll continue. Every morning, we chew the fat in my office. Gary has a reserved seat my desk. He brings me my grande skim, no whipped, toffee nut latte. Usually, we wrap about how he tied one on a bit too tight last night and what should he have for greasfast. Next comes what outfit did I convince Meredith not to wear out with me last night, or he asks who is up for the night and how’s my lineup looking. Ultimately David chimes in about what his sumbitching mother-in-law is up to now. Today though, as I write this, actually, the team is huddled around my computer watching “Are You Hot?” auditions on my second monitor. One might wonder how I stumbled upon such exciting web footage considering I seldom watch TV. Joan, my boss, interrupted our dishing session, saying that we “must see this show. It is the worst show ever. You have to see it.” (This reminds me of people who tell me to “taste this. I think it’s gone bad.”) “Lorenzo Lamas hosted last night, and he was checking out this girl, and he said ‘Baby, you might not be all that, but I gotta tell ya, I’ve got a taco cooking down south, and it’s almost done.'” Joan lets out a peal of laughter. Joan is a beautiful 40ish petite woman with silver hair, childlike features, and has a laugh that lights her up from the inside like candles in a pumpkin. We proceed to the site as Joan impersonates Lamas; I am the driver. Auditions load. We scan through photos of contestants who’ve appeared on the show. The comments pour: “He might be hot, but he looks like he’s trying to take a dump.” “She is NOT ugly.” “ Hot, without a doubt, but so Joe Lunchbucket.” “All the chicks have fake boobs.” “Man, I can’t tell when they’re fake or not.” “Get out, how can you not tell? They look like they’ve got two saucers of milk under there.” “He’s alright at best. The guy has eyes like pissholes in the snow.” “She’s cute, sure. But you can tell just by looking at her that her name ends in a vowel.” “What did he mean he had a taco down south? Why a taco? Oh, maybe because he’s Spanish?” “Yeah, I don’t really get the taco reference.” “Well maybe he’s uncircumcised.” “Still, why wouldn’t he say burrito then?” “I like the word butt taco, don’t you?” “I like vertical taco myself.” “What’s a vertical taco?” Ah, I have to say, I’m not at all nostalgic for the days of political correctness.
When train doors slide open, the station platform goes from beige to black. It’s flooded with polished shoes; stick legs form an army ready to assemble. From blank to bustling, in a moment. And that’s how it happened. Unlike a car gliding on its last fumes, slowing to a stall, things happened in a sudden. In a moment, people everywhere looked up. The overhead lights hummed orange; the temperature climbed. Passengers kept calm, reading dog-eared books, squinting into their laps. A women near the pole faints from anxiety, from heat. It is contagious. Subway cars beneath rivers are given priority; their passengers plunged into the darkness of the underground tracks. Maneuvering over rails, arms outstretched, teetering for balance, they’re escorted by strangers. Walking over faded food wrappers, searching for a face, someone to connect with. This could be it. Short order cooks sat. Arms folded, white hats resting on knees. Women in pearls escorted their Manolos down crowded streets, ruining their pedicures. Wide streets narrowed with throngs of people, their bags slung over their shoulders, cell phones in one hand, an overpriced bottle of water in the other. Old ladies with fuchsia lipstick, penciled eyebrows, and burgundy hair direct traffic so furiously, their hair fans out like an opened umbrella—can’t help but hope that it’s all just bad luck. People walking in bus lanes, buses too crowded with passengers, no room, wait for the next. Radio City Music Hall marquee dark. Traffic lights blank. Times Square black. “Bike for sale, $600. That’s right, people, God turned the lights out. The end is near.” Men in dark suits, with their ties and jackets draped over a winged arm, walk face down with opened cell phones, text messaging, as if engrossed in a good book, using peripheral vision as a guide. They have arrived: the end of the line for the public pay phone. Dress shoes were broken in. Blisters. Lines for Mister Softee, for the bus, down subway stairs, for the ferry, of people in the street sandwiched between stationary cars. People huddled in semicircles around parked cars with loud radios, as if the President had been shot. Brownstone steps became porches. This was not The South; this was Manhattan with candles. The jewelry district is closed. Hassidic men stand in long navy lines, their white shirts stained with rings of sweat, like water on paper. Just as cadets wait to be bussed off to a co-ed social, a small army of men line up neat as matchsticks on the sidewalk, hats intact, waiting with anticipation and hot palms for their big yellow bus to take them home. Their display windows have been cleared; vaults are filled. The doors to camera stores near 42nd street have been locked. “We Are Open” signs have been turned. A graveyard of standing cardboard signs is all that’s left in their windows. ‘Panasonic’, ‘Sony’, ‘New!’, ‘Ask for Price’ stand alone, naked, their items removed with haste. Looting Prevention. Central park has more heels than shoelaces, more nylon stockings than nylon shorts. Dogs in Sheep’s Meadow race beyond NO DOGS ALLOWED signs. Ice cream vendors sell out their stock, push silver carts along the median of Park Avenue, smiling. Those who hated soda had one. Those who favored chocolate were left with Toasted Almond. Some people live and sleep their work. Unable to get home to Manhasset, to White Plains, to Livingston, they literally sleep at work. Wet with sweat, skin sticking to leather conference room sofas. Outside Grand Central Station, businessmen sat on their laptops with faces of defeat. Over the Queensboro Bridge, New Yorkers shuffled, shielding their eyes with hand-visors, looking up. Others looked down trying to stop the rocking in their heads, leaning over the bridge. Motion sickness. Vomit. A napkin and water from a stranger. Passengers stranded in stalled subway cars on the bridge, pry open doors, sit on the edges, dangle their bare feet, wave to walkers and wait for heroes. People wishing they had dressed lighter, that they had a better cell phone service provider, that they owned a flashlight, that they had worn flats, that they had pressed ‘save’ on their computer, that they kept a car, that they lived on a lower floor. Afternoon lullaby tapes go silent—the baby begins to cry. And so neighbors meet for the first time, in the dark, sharing a candle up shadowed stairwells, whispering by default. Invited into a stranger’s apartment, while previously you barely took a moment to nod up from your paper to extend a half-smile and grunt a punctuated “G’morning” in the elevator. Without knowing how long it would last, friends tried to meet for drinks—take advantage while it lasts, like being excused from school early because of heavy snow, only for the snow to melt. A free half…