‘Surprised, I Turned to See an Older Man There on the Sidewalk’

Expensive Diary:

It was my father-in-law’s birthday, and I had already gotten the strawberry cheesecake. My husband was busy making ready a particular birthday dinner. There was one factor lacking: flowers.

I went for the nook bodega, selected two premade bouquets that appeared completely happy and determined to get some extra flowers to make a grand show.

I picked up a bunch of sunflowers and contemplated which inexperienced stems to purchase to go along with them.

“Don’t you have enough flowers?” somebody behind me stated.

Surprised, I turned to see an older man there on the sidewalk.

“I’m looking for some coordinating flowers,” I defined. “What do you mean?”

“You must have 35 stems in just one of those bouquets,” he stated. “Why do you need more?”

I requested what he could be pleased with if he have been 94.

“I’d be happy with three flowers,” he stated. “It’s the thought that counts, you know, and anyway, what would I do with so many flowers?”

He walked away, his knowledge hanging within the air and leaving me feeling foolish.

The check of his recommendation got here at dinner. Was he right that much less could be extra?

Reader, the birthday boy was completely happy.

— Rebecca Mattoni


Expensive Diary:

On the nook of Driggs Avenue and Humboldt Road in Greenpoint there’s a little Polish deli. The person who works there has identified me even earlier than I knew me, but I couldn’t inform you his identify.

My household outlets on the deli for recent cuts of Polish meat, bread, pickles, horseradish and different charcuterie accompaniments from the homeland.

Once I was youthful and nonetheless dwelling in Queens, I might typically be part of whichever guardian was going to the deli, purely for egocentric causes.

Like clockwork, the deli man would give my guardian change with one hand and provides me a Polish deal with, both Krowki or edible gum, with the opposite.

“And this for the little one,” he would say, extending his fist and opening his palm to disclose the treasured confection.

My father nonetheless goes to the deli each time my household has a hankering, regardless of having crossed the Horace Harding Expressway to Lengthy Island practically twenty years in the past. Final July, whereas visiting, I joined him on certainly one of his journeys. Now totally an grownup, I had not been to that intersection in a few years.

From behind a counter filled with pickles, head cheese, kielbasa and rye bread, the deli man handed my father his change. Together with his different hand, he reached to a shelf above the register.

Bringing it down, he turned over and opened his fist to disclose three yellow Krowki.

“And this,” he stated, “for the little one.”

— Ania Zolyniak


Expensive Diary:

I’m a bus operator for New York Metropolis, currently driving the M72. Generally I take advantage of the hazard lights when pulling into stops.

In the future, an older lady, maybe in her 70s, acquired on at 67th and Fifth, simply earlier than the bus turns west to undergo the transverse.

“I like how you blink the lights,” she stated. “My late husband used to make them blink when driving away to say goodbye.”

Her fare was not required that day.

— Timothy Brandoff


Expensive Diary:

I used to be within the midst of my weekly Gowanus-to-Washington Heights journey on the A. Generally, I name an Uber to keep away from the 90-minute prepare trip residence. However on this present day, I couldn’t justify the associated fee.

At forty second Road, a small lady stepped into the subway automotive and sat subsequent to me. She had the Playbill for “A Strange Loop.”

I had just lately seen the present, and this lady seemed to be simply as captivated by it as I had been. I requested her what she considered the present, and out spilled a flood of ideas.

Earlier than we had an opportunity to introduce ourselves, the conductor introduced that we needed to discover a new prepare: This A would solely be working to West 145th.

“Where are you headed?” I requested

“Dyckman Street,” she stated.

“Oh, me too!”

It turned out we lived on the identical aspect of the identical road and solely two buildings aside.

“Want to get a car uptown?” I requested. “It’s on me.”

We climbed the steps out of the subway and waited for the motive force to reach.

— Katherine Lenhart


Expensive Diary:

Some years again I took my 15-year-old daughter to dinner at Little Owl within the West Village.

This was when “The Hunger Games” books have been very massive. On the time, my daughter had her hair completed identical to Katniss, with an “arena braid.”

The place was crowded, so we ate on the bar. The bartender was fascinated with my daughter’s hair, and so they had a protracted chat. She excused herself and disappeared for a while.

When she reappeared, her hair was completed identical to my daughter’s.

— Tom Parsons

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Illustrations by Agnes Lee