The bride and groom were having their pictures taken outside the Plaza Hotel while the rest of the wedding party stood in clumps twenty-five yards away. The bridesmaids were cold in their ankle-length, bare-shouldered gowns. The dresses were all black. I wondered whether black was now the fashionable choice for bridesmaids.

I was given that hearing test where a device inserted in the ear emits pitches at different strengths and frequencies. When I was through raising my hand, the medical assistant said, “You have good hearing.” I said, “That’s not always what my wife says.” The assistant laughed. Spotting a ring, I asked, “Does your husband think your hearing is good?” She laughed again and said, “When I get home my hearing gets worse.”

When the annual physical was concluded, I was pleased when the doctor said, “You are in good shape.” Then after a pause, he added the disconcerting qualifier: “For a person your age.”

Nathan was going into university teaching and asked the difference between teaching undergraduate and graduate students. I said, “You expect undergrads to know nothing. With grad students, you are always surprised that they know nothing.”

I know that smell is good part of what we consider taste. But why is it that sushi tastes better when eaten with chopsticks rather than a fork?

I went to a production at the Public Theatre and thought of what Fran Lebowitz said, “Having been unpopular in high school is not cause for book publication.” Having what you think was an “interesting” or “troubled” or “unusual” upbringing does not mean that you can write a good play about it.

Waiting in a slow-moving line at a smoked fish place, the dog with the person in front of me came over to me. As always, I put the back of my hand in front of the dog’s nose. After sniffing the dog stood still. The owner said, “He wants you to scratch his head.” I wondered if this was the owner’s first dog or if she thought that in my long life I had never encountered a dog before.

In the bookstore, I extended the back of my hand to a dog and started scratching behind his ears. He jumped up on me in a friendly, doggy way. I said, “You’re easy.” The owner smiled and said, “He is that way with everyone.” I joked, “You could at least pretend that I am special.” Without missing a beat she said, “I have never seen him doing that before. He must really like you.”

She mistook the spouse for someone else. We were sitting on a bench at the confluence of several streets. She told us her name was Louise, but added it was really Phylis Louise. She was from South Carolina but had left when she was seventeen. She was last back there in 1996 and had found that her little crossroads town had changed. She said that she was 84 but that she was unsure of her birthday. The midwife said October 8 while her mother had said November 8. Her father could not read but when he was finally allowed to vote, he quickly placed an X and registered as a Democrat. Louise said, “They say that South Carolina is red, but not all of it.” 

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