Archive for the 'women and men' Category

in a restaurant

One of our friends is late to breakfast. She calls and tells us to order something for her, anything. We pick out one of those fancy dishes with eggs.

“How do you want the eggs,” the waiter asks. He’s got a melodious middle eastern accent. I could listen to him all day.

But this is difficult. Eggs are something you can get wrong. He’s waiting. Finally, he says, “Is it a man or a woman who’s coming?”

“A woman.”

“A woman? Ok, then it’s poached. You wait, you’ll see. I’m right.”

He was.


at the cafe

Up at the counter, the coffee girl is talking to a guy who used to work there. I walk up just as she’s asking him, “How are the women in your life?”

“Whoa, I’m not sure how to answer that.”

I turn to him, we’ve always had some banter. “Got a lot of sisters?”

He laughs. “That’s a good one. Nice work.”


He steps back a little and glances at the coffee girl’s back, she’s fussing over the espresso machine. “I’ve got a few women who probably wish they were related to me so I’d stop bothering them sexually.”

“Ok, that’s just weird.”

“Yeah, like many things, it sounded better in my head.”

in front of the gallery

We’re standing around in front of the gallery in the soft, misty rain. People are smoking and talking with their hands. A very small woman in a curvy black dress is standing alone with her arms crossed, shiny black curls swinging around her bare shoulders. My friend says  hello to her, and then I do too, it’s a friendly night, here in the rain. She seems both relieved and dismayed to have been noticed as a person who is waiting for something. I ask her why she’s standing around.

“My friend is very very late,” she tells me, her shoulders rise and drop, punctuating her annoyance. She holds a palm up to the rain. She’s tapping her foot. She’s smiling through all of this. She’s performing something.

“You could wait inside,” I say, pointing at the massive plate glass windows that separate us from the party.

“Oh no,” she says. “I want to stay here and get even madder by the time he shows up.”

Now I get it. Now I’m interested. “What are you going to say when he does?”

She gives me a look that says, we’re in this together, we women, we know how this works, we know where the power lies. “I’m going to tell him,” she leans closer, “that he better buy me a drink before I’ll even say a word to him.”

We both laugh, and she whisks some of the dewdrops off her pretty arms. A taxi pulls up, a man in a nice shirt and nice shoes tumbles out. He seems earnest even in the way he unfolds himself from the taxi, eager and clumsy. It’s not what I expected at all. I look back at her, she winks at me as he brushes past me to greet her.

Over my shoulder, I can hear her. She’s not mad at all.

at the bodega

A small pregnant woman with a big voice comes in and says to no one in particular, “Where’s my husband at?” She looks at the proprietor. “How come you don’t know where my husband’s at?”

“He’s off today,” the man says softly.

The woman turns to a tall black girl in gold sandals and tight shorts. “You grown up,” she says, louder than necessary in the cluttered aisle. “I saw you. You grown up to be a good lookin’ girl.”

The girl speaks softly too, as though the woman has stolen all the volume the room gets. “Thank you very much.” She looks a little embarrassed.

“Where’s my husband,” the woman turns back to the proprietor. “You a bad father-in-law, how come you don’t know where my husband is,” she asks, cocking her hand on her hip. “Hmph.” She doesn’t leave him much room to answer. The man looks startled and shakes his head. She gives him a hard look and then, thinking better of the whole thing,  just sways her hips out the door.

by the bodega

There’s a young woman, she’s small and her clothes are smaller. Her face is shadowed by a stiff trucker’s hat. Beside her is a beanpole of a man rocking a baby carriage back and forth. He’s older, and just shy of homely. “Excuse me,” the man says, as he points a finger back and forth between him and the girl. “If you saw the two of us together, would you think we made a fine couple?” The girl is giggling, hiding her face further under the hat.

“You’re both beautiful,” I say.

“See,” he says to the girl, and then turns back to me. “She don’t want to be with me. What’s that about?”

“I guess that’s her problem, right?” I say, catching the girl’s eye so that we are in on the joke together.

I walk on by and the man calls out after me. I look back and there he is, all gangly with a silly grin and a big thumbs-up.

on the subway

A fat girl with a hauntingly beautiful face. She laughs like clear water at something her pug-faced friend says. She looks at him with such open longing, and he turns to stare out the window into the dark tunnel. This can’t end well.

down the block

I haven’t seen the girl since midsummer. Now she comes through her front door. Something has changed. She has grown into herself. She has become enticing. She stretches and yawns, and takes her time settling down to sit on the top step. She tips her head one way, and then the other. What she is not doing is fidgeting. What she is not doing is posing. What she is not doing is waiting. After a while the corner boys come slowly out of the dark, one by one. They sit at her feet and ignore each other. She gives the street an idle scan. Minutes pass. Nobody says a word.

on the subway

He’s standing by the doors as we cross over the bridge in the morning’s clear light. He’s wiry and unshaven. He looks at me just a beat too long. Then his gaze drifts back to his girlfriend, her back is to me. She tugs a hank of her long dark hair. He shrugs, and raises a flat hand to the level of her chin. He wants to change her. She shakes her head. They’ve been holding hands but now he drops hers and turns back to the view of the wide river. She keeps looking at him as he rests his temple on the glass and watches the blue girders of the bridge flash by. She puts her fingers on his chest, and getting no response she settles back. He looks at me again, his eyes say: it would be different if it was you. But he is wrong. Who among us is happy?

in midtown

There’s a plain-faced couple lingering by the subway steps, they’re pressed close and kissing softly. It’s lovely to watch, it makes you want to kiss the next person who walks by. But no one else sees them. Everyone is late for work, or dazzled by the neon lights.

on the corner

Me and that drug dealer, we say hello all the time. He’s management, you can tell because he’s never drunk on the job. This time I walk by and one of his boys says, “got a fine ass on her.” The dealer thwacks the boy’s hat off his head and says, “don’t talk about her like that, she NICE.”