Archive | City Matters

Putting the Pee in Passive-Aggressive

A one-act play to describe the general vibe of this day.

Scene 1: Chase Bank, 8th Avenue. Me, laden with three bags. She: Clad in workout gear, very high ponytail, mirrored glasses. Her head and hands buried in smartphone, she cuts in front of me and then lets bank door hit my face before I can rearrange my bags to catch it.

Me: Rude.
She: You know what’s ruder? Telling someone they’re rude!
Me: You know what’s ruder than telling someone they’re rude? Letting the door bang on them and then telling them they’re rude when they say you’re rude.
She: Get a life!
Me: I have one. And it’s not rude!

Scene 2: Subway entrance, 8th avenue, three minutes later.

She (appearing out of nowhere, cutting in front of me again): I hope you’re less crazy now.
Me (walking behind her half a step, deliberately): Sooo much less crazy. Thank you! It’s because I have you as a model. And you’re so sane, so pretty, so gracious, so kind….(I am still listing positive adjectives as she hurries away).


Me (addressing imaginary audience that follows us all in the age of social media): Yes, I have put the aggressive back in passive-aggressive. No, I am not proud of my role in this story. Yes, I am still laughing. (Giant hook appears and yanks me offstage. Obviously.)  Om-shanti’d, I’m sure!

Menino and Magliozzi, I Hardly Knew Ye

Although I recognize Tom Menino’s salt-of-the-earth goodness (he wasn’t called the “urban mechanic” for nothing), his death marks the first landmark Boston moment I’ve not emotionally responded to in my lifetime. I realize it’s because his entire mayoral reign (1993-2014) dovetails with my time in NYC. Have I finally become more of a New Yorker than a Bostonian? My new license plates would suggest so but–as I type this–I learn of the death of Car Talk’s Tom Magliozzi, and it hits me like a ton of bricks. He was the best wiseass (and, ironically, crucial in keeping my car Sadie alive). It’s such a Mass cocktail of tragedy and oddity: two Italian-Boston working-class heroes with startlingly similar names dying within days of each other. I can’t help admiring the confluence even as I realize no one here will care. Oh, I miss my people. Maybe you really can’t take the Masshole out of the girl.

Fall Aside

Some parentheses-laden mash notes from a mid-morning walk down the Greenpoint stretch of Manhattan Avenue: 1. I love when health food store clerks loll outside their work buildings, smoking. (NYC balance, baby.) 2. I love being able to wear a trench coat without sweating. (Flasher chic, baby.) 3. I love lower-income children more easily than well-off ones (at least as a passer-by; no one said life was fair). 4. I sort of love when Poles speak to me in their mother tongue. On one hand, the reason I don’t know Polish is because all my Polish (Jewish) ancestors either died a horrible death at the hands of (possibly) their ancestors or just barely escaped them. On the other hand, it’s a high compliment to be confused for a Polish lady. 5. Speaking of which, I love the Polish lady I met in line at the dollar store. When I complimented her turquoise beret, she pulled it off and showed me her bald scalp. “I’m sick,” she said, and held my hand until the cashier was ready to ring up her purchases. (I send her more love right now.) 6. I I love, love, love October. Come autumn, even this finely feathered city smells, looks, and feels magic. Smoke, drying leaves, dying earth: No wonder my best love affairs have always begun this time of year. (Extrapolate away.)

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy