On Underhill Avenue in my neighborhood in Brooklyn, there’s a mural of Underdog, the canine superhero from my childhood, on the side of a building.
One day, as my partner and I were walking past with our own dog in the trailer, a man walking behind us started singing the Underdog theme.
Without discussing it, my partner and I joined in the chorus:
Speed of lighting, roar of thunder, combat of all who steal or loot. Underdog. Underdog!
Our own superhero adventure on the way to the park.
Black felt skirt
When I was commuting between New York City from New Jersey many years ago, I would take a train, then a ferry that dropped me off in Lower Manhattan, where I walked up Liberty Street to the BMT subway. In good weather it could be a pleasant trip.
On one particular occasion, I was rather pleased with the new outfit I had created to conform to the dress code of my new employer, Saks Fifth Avenue: a black turtleneck sweater topping a circular black felt skirt that I ‘had made this weekend.
Late as usual, I caught the train just as it was about to leave the station. Turning around the post, I was grateful to find one of the last seats available.
As I settled in, I noticed a woman sitting across from me. At first she smiles. Then she started to laugh. Finally, I could see she was stifling an outright laugh.
I looked to my right to see what was so fun.
Sitting next to me was a well-dressed young man. He was sitting a little stiff and staring straight ahead in an almost frozen state.
Almost half of my circular black felt skirt was draped over her knees.
Friday out for a walk
It’s love at first sight
carrying a briefcase, looking straight ahead.
Bryant Park at right, posing for photos.
When a horse eats an apple offered by a little girl,
all traffic lights get out of bed
and turns green.
High heels walking on Fifth Avenue.
Fifth Avenues a good sport.
Bryant Park around the corner
don’t mind the caracoling butterfly
on the three o’clock side,
the hour in the city visiting friends.
The streets relax to dance
take note of clothing stores
flapping their eyelashes
and smiling as you walk.
It was two days after my 28th birthday and in the middle of a snowstorm in February 2017. I went to a meeting and after, the rest of the day being stopped due to the weather, I stopped in Veselka for drink coffee and eat at the counter.
I struck up a conversation with a young man who was sitting to my left. He said he was about to embark on a nine-hour bicycle courier service.
He had a thin mustache and blonde Kurt Cobain hair and was dressed all in black. Undressed, really, with just a leather motorcycle jacket as your only defense against the relentless snow. He ordered challah french toast, easy eggs and kielbasa.
My family keeps sending me pictures of my home in Florida, he said.
But do you want to be in Florida? I asked.
Damn, no, he replied.
A woman came in and sat down to my right. She ordered borscht and told me she had been coming there for 30 years. The slice of bread that came with the soup was twice as thick, she said.
We talked about politics and mindfulness and being oddly drawn to men while ovulating. She told me that B&H Dairy had vegetarian liver on the menu in 1974.
She said she had an older dog who sometimes woke her up too early. She said she was trying to live in the moment. One day the dog would be gone, she said, and she would curse the days she now took for granted.
She thought the bike messenger and I were related.
It’s your brother? she asked, smiling. Your little brother?
Oh no, I say. Were all here by chance.
Korvettes had it all
It was July 1967. I had recently graduated from New York University and was moving to a new apartment at 55th Street and Lexington Avenue.
I walked to EJ Korvette on 47th Street and 5th Avenue to buy a vacuum cleaner. Korvettes had everything you could possibly need at the time.
I found the perfect vacuum cleaner, an orange and tan can model that weighed 19 pounds. Not wanting to splurge on a cab or lug it around on a bus, I decided I could just haul it around the 10 blocks or so.
At 51st Street, I had to put it down to rest a bit before continuing. A well-dressed older man observed my situation and stopped. I thought he was going to offer to help.
Nice try, he said, but it will take more to clean up this town.
And then he continued.
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