Posts Tagged 'Manhattan'

Missed Connections, Manhattan, 1981-2011

"Don't even *try* to compete with these boots of mine, 'cause there's nothing else like them."    Photo:Ed Yourdan, Aug. 2011)

"Don't even *try* to compete with these boots of mine, 'cause there's nothing else like them." Photo: Ed Yourdon, Aug. 2011

Fast Walker with Nice Eyes – w4m – 22 (Upper East Side)
Date: 1981-11-22, 8:45AM EST

We’ve seen each other nearly every morning this fall, walking down Lexington Avenue to work. We both walk faster than everyone else. This morning, as you peeled off east down 47th Street, you glanced over your shoulder. Our eyes met, briefly. I wonder if you could tell I was blushing as I mouthed, “Bye.”

If Craigslist had existed thirty years ago, I might have posted this chance encounter under “Missed Connections.” Instead, I dutifully recorded it in my diary. These days, a missed connection is a solvable problem (post it on Craigslist!), but back then missed connections were the norm. Continue reading ‘Missed Connections, Manhattan, 1981-2011’

Only a Hat?

Investing meaning in an object is a risky proposition, not least because losing the object poses an existential danger beyond its material worth. And, of course, making assumptions about a person’s values based on, say, what they are wearing can be misleading.

And with these caveats in mind, I present Exhibit A: a mink hat that, for me, is freighted with meaning and weighted with contradictions.

Cecily Rocks The Hat (1999)

When I acquired The Hat in 1993 I could not have predicted that, 18 years later, it would become a potent symbol of my own personal and political evolution. At the time, I was a young mother living in Manhattan. My regular route between our apartment and my son’s nursery school took me past an upscale thrift shop on Third Avenue, and one winter day I stopped in to browse. The Hat caught immediately my eye from inside a display case. I remember asking the sales lady to take it out, and hesitating when I saw the price tag: $75 was more than I was prepared to pay for an impulse purchase. But when I tried The Hat on I felt a sense of destiny; it fit perfectly, and the color of the fur exactly matched my hair. Sold! I wore it home. Continue reading ‘Only a Hat?’

Striking the Stage-Set of a Life

In 1957, E. B. and Katharine White left Manhattan to live year-round on their farm in Maine. In Good-bye to Forty-Eighth Street, EBW wryly compares the process of packing to:

“…trying to persuade hundreds of inanimate objects to disperse and leave me alone. It is not a simple matter. I am impressed by the reluctance of one’s worldly possessions to go out into the world again. I kept hoping that some morning, as if by magic, all…would drain away from around my feet, like the outgoing tide, leaving me standing silent on a bare beach.

He later returns to the tidal image, observing with resignation:

It is not possible to keep abreast of the normal tides of acquisition. A home is like a reservoir equipped with a check valve: the valve permits influx but prevents outflow.

Particularly challenging is the disposal of awards and trophies, which he calls “leeches.” His trademark wit is at its sharpest here:

…I sat for a while staring at a plaque that had entered my life largely as a result of some company’s zest for self-promotion. It was bronze on walnut, heavy enough to make an anchor for a rowboat, but I didn’t need a rowboat anchor, and this thing had my name on it. By deft work with a screwdriver, I finally succeeded in prying the nameplate off; I pocketed this, and carried the mutilated remains to the corner, where the wire basket waited. The work exhausted me more than the labor for which the award was presented.

I imagine that the nameplate was later disposed of Sopranos-style in a New Jersey dumpster where no trash-picker would make the connection.
Continue reading ‘Striking the Stage-Set of a Life’


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