I’m in my early 30s and live in Brooklyn. I have a neighbor who I guess is about twice my age. For the past few months, every time he saw her on the sidewalk he would compliment her on what she was wearing and she would do the same for me.
One day, I walked out of my building as she walked by. We wore the same jeans, the same Breton striped T-shirts, the same dark sunglasses and even the same gold necklace.
We stopped and pointed at each other.
“Nice suit,” I said.
“Nice suit,” he said.
Looking down, I noticed she was wearing black flats. He was wearing sneakers.
“You should go back and change,” he said.
I took a photo of both of us and we separated.
A week later I saw her again. She was with her partner.
“This is my twin,” he said.
“I switched to flats,” I said.
“Good,” she said. “I knew they would look better.”
He took a photo of his daughter on his phone. She was about my age and had the same blonde hair.
“Guess I need my hair reflected again,” I said, handing the phone back and turning it around for my neighbor to inspect.
“Yes,” he said, “I think it’s necessary to add some stripes.”
tony from the bronx
A few years ago I was visiting New York City with a friend. We hailed a taxi outside our hotel and headed to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
We were excited. The taxi was a Checker and at the wheel was what we thought was an authentic New York taxi driver: strong Bronx accent, unlit cigarette, driver’s cap.
Finding out we were from Fort Worth, Texas, he told us stories about the Bronx and advised us where to get the best Italian food in the city. His name was Toni.
When we arrived at the museum, we paid the ticket, said goodbye and left. We were entering the museum when we heard someone calling our name.
Turning around, we saw Tony walking towards us. My friend had left her sunglasses in the taxi. We asked what we could do to return the favor.
He smiled and pointed to one cheek.
“A kiss here,” he said, and then pointed to her other cheek. “And one there.”
We were happy to do it.
— Shelly Goetz
I was walking down the street on a Sunday afternoon with headphones on. It was the end of what had been a difficult weekend.
I felt trapped by a song that soothed my recently broken and rejected heart. I wondered if I would ever meet someone new who would love me or if I should prepare to live a lonely life.
A beautiful young woman walked past me. She seemed to be telling me something, so I took out my headphones.
“You’re so beautiful,” he said. “I just had to tell you.”
“Wow!” I said, “And here I am having a rough day.”
“Well, if you want one,” he said, “I’d give you a hug.”
and we hug
Reading at rush hour
I was on a rush-hour train going downtown with my kids, a 3-year-old and a baby. I had to stop with the stroller and baby, but I found a place where my daughter could sit a little further away.
After sitting down with her book “Madeline,” she looked at me.
“Mommy, you were going to read to me,” he said.
I made eye contact with a man sitting next to him. He was tall and thin, wearing a beige cotton summer suit and bow tie.
“Honey, ask the man if he’ll read to you,” I said.
The man gestured to himself.
“Me?” he said.
He then read “Madeline” from 42nd Street to 72nd Street, while nearby passengers watched and listened.
It was the early 1990s and I was a young associate at a law firm living in a Manhattan apartment building.
One night, after getting home from work around midnight, I decided to take my trash to the compaction room down the hall.
As I opened the door to the room, I heard a woman scream. I jumped back and asked if she was okay.
“Yes,” she said, “but I’m naked.”
“Why are you naked?” I asked.
“I didn’t think there would be anyone in the hallway at this hour,” he responded. “Can you take a step back and then close your eyes so I can run back to my apartment?”