Archive | City Matters

The Church of Plato on a Rainy Afternoon

Yesterday, my friend B and I were having a long talk at Chelsea’s Cafe Grumpy. Because it had just rained, we had the backyard to ourselves and were using that rare private outdoor space to discuss topics that basic NYC etiquette prevented us from inflicting upon others: healthy grieving, ethical dating, spiritually conscious fucking, the heteronormative construct known as marriage, the queasy fundamentalism known as atheism. We were going off. If you saw us through a window, you might have concluded we were on a date, and a good one at that. A man and a woman of roughly the same age, talking animatedly, not touching but paying close attention to each other. She in a sheath dress; he in a tweed jacket.

In the middle of our second coffee, a man poked his head into what by then felt like our turf. “Helen?” he called out tentatively and looked at me. Rather than shaking my head, I grinned, and he raised his eyebrows, mistaking my glee at not being Helen for interest. After a beat B began talking again, and the man—who was peaked but not bad-looking, with a lanky frame and a long, pale face that bore the scars of a rough adolescence—disappeared. A bit later, while standing on the bathroom line, I noticed him again, this time looming over a woman placing an order. She was wearing a brown shirt and what we used to call slacks when we were mocking our parents in the ’70s. The outfit was so drab that it took a minute to register her bright face and surprisingly good figure. “You have nothing that is dairy-free that also does not have nuts?” she was saying with a grave, almost scholarly precision as the barrista searched the pastry case. Continue Reading →

When We Talk About the Weather

I’m aware it’s wicked predictable that I’m obsessed with the weather, me hailing from Massachusetts and all (pun intended, always). But still: I don’t get the people who weren’t wasted by this last spate of swampy days; who aren’t deeply relieved by the cooler temperatures of today. When it grows as muggy as it did over the weekend I turn into a dirty, hot, wet towel who simply cannot think–let alone answer emails, be clever at dinner, or, yoiks, don grownup-lady clothes and lipstick. There’s a reason we always talk about the weather, and it’s not that we have nothing else (polite) to discuss. It’s because weather matters even more than we controlling humans care to admit.  A cigar may never be a cigar but what we really talk about when we talk about the weather is, in fact, weather.

Of Heels and Men

I know the common wisdom is women wear high heels to attract men but my boyfriends have never liked me wearing them. I’m a moderately tall woman with unapologetic posture—none of that stooping or pigeon-toeing you find in many ladies of a certain height. Chalk it up to my stint as a yogi, as well as the fact that I am the shortest woman in my family. I am still taller than my dad, though; in the Rosman clan, a phallus doesn’t necessarily grant you physical dominance.

Maybe it was a desire to get as far away from Dad as possible that led me to dating improbably tall men when I was younger. Six foot two, six foot four —one boyfriend (a German, no less) was six foot six. But I also think many women are wired for tall men, as if their height genetically signals good bones, good brains, good odds. Not to mention that it’s hard to resist a fellow who can swing you over his shoulders.

In my early 30s I began a serious relationship with a man I suspected would become a huge success. This man was not only short but physically unprepossessing. I ended our relationship for a reason I still do not regret despite the wild success he achieved as an online entrepreneur soon after our breakup. I appreciated his mind, work ethic, and self-confidence, but couldn’t bear the prospect of a life in which his body was the only one to which I had access. As he himself barely acknowledged the body in question, it would have been a patently unfair arrangement. Continue Reading →

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