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Writings

Current Affairs, My back pages, Sketches

The Quality of Tears

At first glance I mistook her for a child.  She was tiny, but it was also the way she dressed, in a short dark pleated shirt and denim jacket that made me think Catholic schoolgirl.  And it was the size of the man she clung to; he was large and boyish with a drop of light brown…

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My back pages, Sketches

Boy Meets Boy

“Hi—you’re Eee-nis, right? Baritone, breathless: without warning, the voice over his right shoulder brushed his ear in a sigh of panic, as if the speaker had been chased by dogs.  He hadn’t heard footsteps, or the usual whoosh from the door separating the auditorium’s main stairwell from this tiny chamber that housed the theater department’s bulletin…

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Deep Songs

Loving the Sinners

Even saints have their purgatory.  My mother’s is her bedroom, on the second floor of a sunless two-story edifice that she and my late father purchased a few years after I moved to New York, a house that telegraphs its sepulchral aura as soon as one steps across its threshold. One look inside her room and…

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My back pages, Sketches

Marks of Memory

When my father died, he bequeathed neither money nor property. He did, however, leave a motto: “You have to shave everyday.” As a child I watched him tackle this most manly of tasks, a bespectacled black Santa with a face swathed in aerosol foam. No sign of awkwardness or fear informed his razor’s slow, sinuous…

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My back pages, Sketches

When He Knew

Perhaps he might have noticed the headache first.  With the onset of HIV it would have been atypical, a persistent buzzing immune to aspirin, ibuprofen or acetaminophen.  Rolling from the base of his skull to the crest of his furrowed brow, it would have been a sensation freighted with the heaviness of an eternal cloudy day.  Dan might…

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My back pages, Sketches

The Boss

Ted Davidson’s desk was perched on a platform in the middle of Save Discount’s headquarters, so regardless of where you were in the store, his head and shoulders were always visible, like a judge poised to rain down wrath.  Hell sitting on top of heaven, one of the female cashiers mumbled, though everyone knew why he’d…

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Deep Songs

Summer 2005

I don’t like change. Worse than the dawdling crowds of small-tourists jamming every midtown Manhattan corner, this particular eccentricity threatened to topple my sanity.  With the first warm days came palpable shifts in the landscape: tiny disappearances, incremental vanishings welled up like unexpected storms.  Early warnings came in April, when the Plaza announced it would close its doors for…

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Sketches

The Domestic

I hadn’t been there five minutes, and already the Sisters of Suds were on my back.  My patience had already been tried; never mind my aching shoulders, the result of having lugged my filled-to-overflowing laundry bags through a windy spray of rain, or that my morning toast, smeared with peanut and strawberry preserves, seemed to…

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My back pages, Soujorns

Paris Notes

Our guidebooks described it as a city swathed in gray.   This week, that observation of Paris isn’t a myth, as many of our days have seen rain; observing the weather, I joked to my spouse Jonathan that if it weren’t for the language, we could easily imagine ourselves in London.  Though it usually passes quickly, we weren’t…

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My back pages, Soujorns, Travel

Drowning in Bath

“Bath?” exclaimed the bulbous figure behind the glass at Paddington Station.  “Why would you want to go to Bath?” There was no mistaking his tone: we were about to embark on a pointless day trip.  Suppressing my mounting embarrassment, I pursued his innuendo in an attempt to gauge the extent of our folly. He blew me…

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