Same simple cut
He is 11 years old and counting. Ideally, I would visit every four weeks, but it doesn’t go like clockwork. Haircuts, like many other chores in my life, are often due to necessity. No matter how long I deal in front of the mirror, hoping the last dollop of product can fix anything that doesn’t look quite right, it just doesn’t work.
That’s when I text José. He always calls back punctually and leaves a message telling me he’s at work and that I can drop by when I’m free. I don’t even know why I’m texting since it never came out. I don’t think he ever took a sick day.
The haircut is simple and the same as I’ve had for 11 years. Still, I show him the same photo every time, prompting him to take out his metal-rimmed glasses to look at a photo he’s seen countless times. The movements became comfortably familiar, like a seasoned veteran practicing tai chi in the local park.
We discuss current affairs and family. José always asks questions about my mother but never about my father. Is it because I never mentioned it?
Since I got married, José often gives marriage advice. It’s the kind of old-fashioned advice that no longer rings true. Still, I listen, smile, and nod my head.
I respect the barber-client relationship.
– Hank Zhou
I got off a bus on Fifth Avenue in Midtown on a scorching afternoon. My first stop was a nearby street vendor for a cold drink. I asked for a Seltzer.
“How?” I said. I expected to hear $ 2-3, so I was a little surprised when he said $ 5.
I handed him a $ 5 bill.
– I’m not a tourist, I say. “I live here.”
With a big smile, he returned one to me.
A modest victory, perhaps, but it made my day.
– Art Schaffer
No. 7 Buzz
I was standing on a # 7 train heading to Manhattan when a wasp started buzzing around my head and then landed in my hair.
An older woman standing nearby noticed what was going on and the look of panic on my face that said, “What should I do now?” “
Without a word, she calmly rolled up her newspaper and slapped me lightly on the head.
The wasp, probably a little dizzy, flew away.
– Joan McGrath
A year after decorating my Christmas tree, I noticed that it was crooked and about to fall. I leaned it against the wall until I could run in the morning to get a bigger support.
It was raining when I woke up. I put on a hat and ran to the nearest tree, Spring Street and Lafayette. I was wearing the clothes I had slept in and hadn’t brushed my teeth.
“Excuse me,” I asked the man over there. He was sitting in a small booth covered with twinkling lights and reading a book. “Do you sell stands of trees? “
The eyes watching me were the nicest ones I have ever seen.
I had never asked anyone out before. I was terrified of doing it and terrified of not doing it. The thought of walking past those trees every day and not knowing more about this amazingly handsome man was unbearable.
After I got home and straightened my tree, I put on clothes that weren’t pajamas and walked to the cafe. I bought a hot chocolate and wrote my number on the mug.
I must have walked around the block five times before I had the courage to come back to him. An hour later my phone rang. It was José.
He thanked me for having the courage to come back and asked if I wanted to go with him to see the lighting of the Rockefeller Christmas tree.
Then, we told each other our life stories over a bottle of wine in a bar in Grand Central. I had to be on the nice list that year.
– Stephanie Najor
I parked my car on an outdoor lot near Madison Square Garden while my friend and I went to the Rangers game. After the game we walked over to Virgil’s and spent some time catching up over a leisurely barbecue dinner.
On the way back to the car, I had a hollow feeling in my stomach when the parking lot appeared. From a distance it appeared that my car was the only one left in the parking lot.
My discomfort was soon justified. When I left the car there earlier that evening, I somehow hadn’t noticed the sign clearly stating that the parking lot closed at 11pm.
As my friend and I stood helplessly at the locked gate, pondering our stupidity and predicament, I saw a piece of paper taped to the fence and flapping in the wind. It was a handwritten note.
“I’m in the Irish pub around the corner,” he said. “Join me there.”
Illustrations by Agnès Lee