Archive | Harriet Matters

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.

The Church of Harriet the Spy: All Grown Up

Early this morning was lovely—clear, bright, and cool enough to merit a light sweater—so I kept wandering after I fetched my Americano. The old Italians were beatifically sipping espressos on their stoops; the neighborhood dogs seemed especially glad to be alive; even the Polish ladies managed thin smiles. It was so lovely that I felt unexpectedly melancholy about being on my own. No family with whom to somersault into the day, no strong arm through which to link my own. So I did what I always do when I feel blue: I wandered some more.

After a bit I stumbled upon a bagel place I’d never noticed before. As soon as I entered I knew it’d been a misstep. Junky mid-’90s music was blaring; the countermen looked like they’d gone from clubbing to schmearing with nary a wink of sleep. I ordered anyway. As a New Yorker, I consider it my civic responsibility to monitor all iterations of the city’s signature baked good.

Ahead of me in line stood an older couple who looked even more nonplussed than I felt. Both were clad head to toe in cheerful pastels that clashed boldly with their sour expressions, and the obvious care they’d taken with their clothing–neatly pressed and perfectly matched, right down to their socks–seemed obstinate rather than fastidious. Overall a fascinating fuck-you lurked in all that Sunday finery. When I leaned in to catch their conversation, though, they clammed right up, so I had to content myself with sneaking tiny looks at them as I inspected the shrilly tinted doughnuts on display. The man’s eyebrows and mustache were so bushy and grey they inhabited a century of their own, and she wore a pout so pronounced that the effect was more of a sulking bulldog than of the coquette she once might have been. Both sported the ornery bulk of people who weren’t going to modify their diets no matter how they’d been advised. I imagined they’d been together for at least 50 years, if only because they were too stubborn to part ways. Continue Reading →

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