Archive | Harriet Matters

Hell Hath No Fury Like a Bra Burned

Coming home on the subway tonight from a gala, I was decked out in grownup lady finery–high heels, LBD*, hair blown out, mascara, red lipstick, sheer stockings. At first it was pleasant. I’d almost forgotten what it was like to be out and about in high femme garb since I’ve been dressing like a 12-year-old boy for months now. Then this guy sailed on at Union Square and began making eyes at every girlygirl on the train. Actually, “making eyes” is an understatement. The lout (30ish, clad in bratty fratty gear) was working his way down the traincar, leaning over every unaccompanied woman wearing lipstick, and saying things like You’re gorgeous. Will you marry me? until she finally looked up and everyone else looked away to avoid poking the bear.

Then he headed in my direction.

I had steam coming out of my ears. Here I had thought one advantage of middle age was invisibility, and this Alexander Dumbass was haranguing me like he’d been appointed king of a goddamned harem. And then it hit me: I really didn’t have to take this crap. I’d never had to, of course, but at this point I was old enough to know I didn’t have to. I’d been living in NYC for 22 years, and had every right to take a subway in my hometown–on my own line, even–without a joker acting like he owned my personal space. I wasn’t some stammering coquette. I was a grown-ass broad.

I stared at him. “So this is your game? You’re just going to walk down the train and mess with every woman you like?” He raised his eyebrows and hands– Whatsa matter? I’m just complimenting you–but I channeled a furious Harriet the Spy. “C’MON, FINK. GET OUT OF MY FACE BEFORE I MAKE YOU.”  A few guys shrank as if I’d just screamed at them but most of the female passengers started cackling. And when the dude heard our laughter, he beat a hasty retreat to the next subway car–where, I hoped, another weary middle-aged woman was poised to bellow at him some more.

*Little Black Dress!

Love for Sale (Craigslist Haikus)

Ever since I became Home-Rehab Harriet, I’ve been obsessed with Craigslist. Not the personals—that glimpse into modern mating rituals is beyond me—but the “for sale” category, which already has coughed up an armoire and French dresser that I’ve made lovely for a song. Every morning I read the listings, and  they never fail to fascinate me. The guy in Howard Beach selling a white polar bear rug for $35,000. The Upper East Side denizen charging $1,100 for her broken lamp. The Bay Ridge lady selling used soap, deodorant, and razors. Such an opportunity to practice compassion for humanity in all its spiky forms, this Craigslist.

The engagement rings in particular break my heart. I’d love to follow up on each ad but, having burned through at least eight lives, content myself with merely imagining the stories behind them. In haiku form, no less.

Enjoy this diamond/ My predilection for cads/ Is your happy gain Continue Reading →

A Scavenger Hunt for the Lady in Blue

Around 4pm I finished my desk work and, sufficiently pleased with the results, braided my hair, strapped on my equivalent of Harriet the Spy’s uniform—blue sneakers, blue trench coat, blue glasses, blue scarf, fur hat, scarlet lipstick, and waterproof, floor-length Meg shops pleather skirt—and gave myself 20 bucks to buy an afternoon treat. Off I waltzed into the teatime sky. Said hi to the old movie of a waterfront, said hi to my neighborhood guys, said hi to the sun as it changed its angle, said hi to each street corner as I loped on by. Finally, near the end of my big loop, I espied a very shiny, very large pair of royal blue earrings in the window of a store I’d never noticed before. Naturally, they cost 20 bucks. All in all, twas the kind of scavenger hunt of an afternoon that makes a ladygirl glad that she grew up.

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