‘The Crowd of People Waiting for Their Orders Was Packed to the Walls’
I was at a bagel shop on Lorimer Street on a very busy Sunday morning. The crowd of people waiting for their orders was packed to the walls. I and another young man had been waiting up against the counter for a while.
“What did you order again, babe?” the woman running sandwiches called out in our direction.
The other guy began to answer.
“No,” she corrected him while indicating that she had meant me, “the other babe.”
“Lotta babes in here,” he said in a thick Brooklyn accent. We both laughed.
Several minutes later, he was the lucky one: His order was ready.
“Later, babe,” I said casually as he walked past me. He was facing the other way, but I could still hear him laugh.
“Later, babe!” he replied.
Call and Response
It was early evening on an unseasonably mild Friday night in February. I was walking quickly along Fifth Street toward Second Avenue and wondering whether we were getting the first taste of spring while trying not to trip on broken sections of the sidewalk.
I saw a man walking towards me. He was holding a phone to his ear. As he got closer, he held the phone away from his face.
“Marco!” he shouted.
He returned his phone to his ear and paused.
“Marco!” he shouted again.
This time, I heard a voice respond from behind me on the opposite side of the street.
“Polo!” the voice said.
The man grinned as we passed each other
— Rachel Misner
Running Late, Running Low
As I sat on the subway on a Wednesday morning, my eyes drifted from the clock on the upper left screen of my phone to the charge signal on the right. I was going to be late for a meeting, and my phone was at 1 percent.
I looked up to see how many stops I was from my Midtown destination and realized I had gotten on the wrong train. I sighed and got off in the heart of Chinatown.
With my phone now asleep, I removed my headphones and headed toward a different station, listening to the bustle and murmurs coming from a sidewalk fish market as I started to walk.
When I got on the next train, there was a young couple with a stroller sitting across from me. As my eyes drifted to the right, I saw an older woman sitting near the couple playing peekaboo with the baby in the stroller.
The young couple smiled at me smiling at the woman, who was smiling at the baby, who was smiling at the woman.
I got off at 42nd Street.
My friend Sonja was born and raised in Minnesota. She moved to the West Village in 1965. Her first studio apartment remains her home today. She has enjoyed everything about Manhattan: the ballet, the opera, the museums, the people, the theater, The New Yorker.
Sonja is a retired teacher who commuted many years to a small town in central New Jersey. She was well known for her classroom’s décor. The ceiling was crisscrossed with strings, from which hung New Yorker covers spanning about 50 years.
These were the inspirations for her students’ creative writing assignments. Charles Addams appreciated the stories Sonja sent to him, with his covers as the subjects. He wrote a personal note to her, noting his favorite one.
Blossom Dearie was a neighbor, late in her life. I know this because Sonja checked up on her one day before she left for lunch with me.
It is difficult for Sonja to get around these days. Bad knees, she says. She tells me about the angels who live in her apartment. They look out for her.
Sonja is moving back to Minnesota soon to be closer to her family. If I could, I would have the Empire State Building lit up in red (her favorite color) on the eve of her departure.
Manhattan will miss you, Sonja Antoinette Stepperud.
My hair is more silver than dark brown now, and I no longer call myself middle-aged. But I do try to keep fit and active and I don’t feel that the years show too heavily on me.
One day, I was leaving my home, a federal-style, red brick rowhouse near Downtown Brooklyn, when I encountered a woman standing on the sidewalk and looking at the house.
“This is a lovely house,” she said. “I always notice it when I pass by.”
We talked for a moment about the house and its history.