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‘She Was Not a Talented Singer, but I Enjoyed It Nonetheless’

Mavis and Amy

Dear Diary:

I was walking my pit bull terrier, Mavis Staples, north on a crowded Franklin Avenue in Crown Heights when I overheard a woman behind me singing my favorite song, “Valerie” by Amy Winehouse, very loudly. She was not a talented singer, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

When we got to the corner, I could feel her sidling up to me.

“I really appreciate how respectfully you walk your dog,” she said, pointing to Mavis. “You keep out of people’s way, and you’re also protecting her.”

“Thank you so much,” I said, choking up a bit. “And I was just thinking to myself how much I appreciate your taste in music.”

She laughed.

“It’s nice to be seen, isn’t it?” she said.

— Christina Holsten


On the No. 2

Dear Diary:

Thursday. Rush hour, between 8 and 8:30 a.m. A downtown No. 2.

An umbrella hangs from the hand of a young woman dressed in black. It drips onto the lap of a man seated to my left.

The woman doesn’t notice. She is too busy shaking her head at a student whose knapsack keeps brushing against her back.

The student, oblivious, guzzles down a coconut drink from a yellow can while looming over a woman in a ribbed tank-top who is clutching a recycled bag holding what looks like more than 12 tall cans of beer. One is open and spills when she is not sipping from it.

The car empties out a bit at Chambers Street before someone breaks into a fit of coughing and sneezing.

I lean forward in my seat to get a glimpse.

— Pamela Horitani


Black Lace Dress

Dear Diary:

I was planning to attend a memorial service for my boss, Oribe Canales. Knowing that I would see a lot of my former co-workers, I decided to buy myself a new dress. I found a gorgeous Anna Sui black lace dress that seemed perfect for the occasion.

On the day of the service, I was standing outside Lincoln Center catching up with friends I had not seen in some time. A man and a woman approached our circle.

They stopped to chat with us, and I realized to my delight that the woman was Anna Sui.

“I’m wearing your dress!” I said.

“I know,” she said.

— Jane Witkowski


Table Talk

Dear Diary:

It was January 2010, and my husband had made a reservation at a small French restaurant on the Upper East Side to celebrate my birthday.

The tables are very close together, and we started chatting with a man and a woman who were sitting next to us.

I love to share good news, so I told them it was my birthday and that after dinner we were headed to see Laura Linney in “Time Stands Still”

The man asked whether we had seen “South Pacific” at Lincoln Center.

I said that, sadly, we had not. We were not Lincoln Center members although we wanted to be. There was a wait.

The woman he was with spoke up.

“Tonight is your lucky night,” she said. “You don’t know who you’re sitting next to.”

The man gave me his business card and asked me to write my email address on it with some dates when we were available to see “South Pacific.”

I was confused but did as he requested. He told me to keep an eye on my inbox. He did not offer any more information, and I did not ask any questions.

After they left, I asked the waiter if he knew who the man was.

Of course, he said, that was André Bishop, Lincoln Center Theater’s artistic director.

We saw “South Pacific” on Valentine’s Day in house seats.

— Ilene Whitman


Little Red Datsun

Dear Diary:

In 1975, my older sister, a single mother in her late 20s, moved from Vermont to an apartment in the West 80s in Manhattan. Because she would no longer need her little red Datsun with a stick shift, she offered to sell it to me.

I was living in Ohio at the time. I took a bus to New York and the next morning we went to Long Island to get the car, which was parked at a friend’s house.

It was my first time driving a stick shift since first learning how, but I was managing OK. I dropped my sister off at work. Her two children were at day care.

I took the car to get the oil changed and then headed back to her place, where I was planning to stay another night before going home.

There were no parking spots on her block and none on the next either. Or the next. Or the next. I was no longer doing OK with the stick shift.

I double parked outside my sister’s building, ran upstairs, grabbed my stuff and left a note: “I couldn’t find a place to park so I’m leaving for Ohio.”

— Susan Creed

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Illustrations by Agnes Lee


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