‘I Asked a Woman There if I Could Make a Call on Her Phone’


Dear Diary:

I was at the bus stop on my way to an appointment when realized I had forgotten my phone and didn’t know the address of where I was going.

I asked a woman there if I could make a call on her phone to get the address. She looked at me somewhat suspiciously but dialed the number, and I got the address.

With no bus in sight, we decided to share a cab. She said she was a singer and was going to Carnegie Hall for a rehearsal with the Oratorio Society of New York.

I was impressed.

“How exciting,” I said.

She asked if I would like to attend that evening’s performance. I said yes, and she gave me two free tickets. In the meantime, we discovered that we lived in the same building.

After dropping her off, I tried numerous friends to see whether they wanted to join me, but they were all busy. So, as my mom would say, I took me myself.

What a fabulous production: about 200 singers, a full orchestra and a full house for a wonderful performance of “Whitman’s America” and another piece, “A Nation of Others.”

I’m glad I forgot my phone.

— Barbara Chasen

Her Banana

Dear Diary:

After I graduated from college, I lived in a great apartment in the East Village with roommates I adored. There was only one problem: Whenever I bought a banana, one of my roommates would, without fail, either eat it or throw it away.

One day, as a joke, I brought home a banana and wrote my name, Mia, on it.

A few days later, on my way out to get bagels with some friends, I grabbed the banana in case I might want to eat it with breakfast. Thanks to my labeling, it had survived until then.

When it was my turn to pay at the bagel shop, I jostled through my things in a rush to find my wallet. Then I went to the back of the store to wait with the other patrons.

After about five minutes, the man running the shop called out in a very confused tone: “We’ve got a banana here for Mia?”

I turned beet red.

“That’s mine” I said sheepishly. “Sorry.”

“No problem!” he said cheerfully. “Good thing you labeled it!”

— Mia Marion

Bowie on the B

Dear Diary:

Dressing for a Saturday trip to Brooklyn Flea, I put on a navy turtleneck, a red Dickies jumpsuit, black sneakers and my David Bowie backpack.

I was on the B train when a woman got on wearing an outfit that was nearly the inverse of mine: red jacket, navy Dickies jumpsuit, white sneakers and David Bowie earrings. She noticed me as well, and we began to chat about music and its importance in our lives.

I couldn’t stop smiling all day to have found a new friend.

— Emily Easton

West Side Ride

Dear Diary:

We hailed a cab after a Sunday-morning tennis game and settled into the back seat with our rackets.

The ride, from the West 20s to the West 90s, was uneventful. It was a nice day out, and the windows were open. We felt relaxed and snug as we went over the highlights of our doubles match (his big serves; my volleys).

When we got to our destination, we thanked the driver and paid our fare.

He surprised us by asking that we not to get out.

You are the nicest couple I’ve had in my cab in 31 years of driving, he said. He added, “I have to open the doors for you.”

He jumped out and ceremoniously opened the back door on one side and then the opened the other.

A woman passing by stopped.

“What’s going on?” she asked. “Is there a problem?”

We smiled.

“No,” we said.

— Melanie Bean

Gray’s Papaya

Dear Diary:

It was hot out when I walked into Gray’s Papaya on Broadway at 72nd Street to get a papaya drink.

I got in line behind a thickset man with thinning hair and a scruffy beard. He was taking his time deciding which condiments to add to his hot dog, so I walked ahead of him to order my drink.

“Get back in line, lady!” he said.

“Sorry,” I replied, hurrying back to my original spot.

After getting my drink and starting to leave, I walked past the same man. He was leaning against a side counter, munching on his hot dog.

“You shouldn’t drink that stuff,” he said, pointing to my drink. “It’s poison!”

“Papaya?” I said. “It’s supposed to be healthy.”

“You think so?” he said. “My brother-in-law was in from L.A. and drank that stuff. He got real sick for three days.”

“What about that hot dog you’re eating?” I asked. “It’s not so healthy either.”

“Who cares?” he said. “I like how it tastes!”

— Suzanne Cogan

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Illustrations by Agnes Lee

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