You Were Walking a Golden Retriever Crossing SE corner of 47th and 9th (Midtown West)
This is the first time I’ve done this before. It’s a long shot, I know, but here goes:
You’re such a fast walker. I watch you every day from my apartment. Around 11:00 a.m. you walk your golden retriever by my window and your hair is always wet from the shower. Or do you take baths? No matter. Your dog is fat and well fed. I like that, someone who cares for animals. I don’t have any animals. I had a rat, but it wasn’t really a pet, and then my upstairs neighbor got a cat that pisses all over everything—it smells like ammonia—and since she got the cat, the rat went away. Such is life, my father used to say. Are you close to your folks? Me, not so much. My mother died when I was young and my father, we can’t find him, me and my brother. He’s getting up there in age, my father, so he may be dead, too. He’s probably dead. It’s too bad, my neighbor says, that I don’t have relationships with my folks, but they’re both dead, or presumed to be, I say. And all that my neighbor has is a relationship with a cat that pisses all over everything. And some Spanish kid. I think my neighbor’s a bitch. I can’t even go over there anymore to talk to her because every time I do my nostrils flare up so much from the smell of ammonia that I feel I look stupid when I talk. And my lips curl. And it makes me feel very unattractive and if it weren’t for that cat my neighbor would be really attractive and it makes me uncomfortable to be so unattractive around someone who is so attractive. I don’t leave the house much anymore. You don’t have that problem, being uncomfortable around people, I would think. You’re such a fast walker. Do you read them often, the Missed Connections? I read them every day. I think someone will see me somewhere, at the Trader Joe’s or something, but it never happens. There’s never a Missed Connection for me at the Trader Joe’s. Come to think of it, I don’t even shop there. Do you shop there? I assume you would—being healthy and savvy as you are. Do you buy gourmet puppy chow for your golden retriever? Does it add an extra layer of sheen to his already brilliant coat? Usually, I hate that shit, but for you we would go to the puppy boutique. My neighbor has a sweater for her cat. It’s a cat, I say, but she says that inside-cats get colder than normal cats and the heat is funny in this building. The sweater is made of a very fancy material, something like cashmere. Cashmere for a cat? Yes, I know. She’s in real estate. I think real estate is a bogus business. People have to live somewhere; I don’t think that other people should make an exorbitant profit from that need. A little—sure— to live, of course. I’m not a Communist or anything, no. I hate them. My father was in the military, and I love this country very much. I won’t tell you who I voted for, but I’m sure you can guess. That Ann Coulter lady was right when she called Edwards a faggot, or didn’t call him a faggot, dependent on how you look at it. I watch a lot of television, so I caught it live. It was very exciting. Though, I’m not a bad guy. I don’t hate the gays. I think they’re quite nice. Jim and John live down the hall. They have a shiatsu puppy that yaps all the time, but it’s cute, the dog. They also make bitchin’ tapas whenever they have people over. They’ve stopped inviting me over, though. I can’t blame them: I’m not right when I get into the sangria. Something about fruits and wine! Jesus, who figured that one? That night, when I got drunk I may have said some things, they asked me to leave. They were polite about it, maybe too polite. That shit is bogus, when people are being polite to be mean. I hate that. But whatever. I had a good buzz on so I rode the E out to Queens and just walked around; the guy across was reading Rich Dad, Poor Dad in Spanish, Papa Rico, Papa Pobre. I wished him luck. It was late, so when I got done walking around I had to walk back. It took me three hours—I meandered some. It was a long walk. I went to the museum of the moving image, but it was closed. I thought about things, you know: my neighbor, her ass, the cashmere sweater, shit like that; my other neighbors, Jim and John, I penned a thank you note and an apology to in my head but never wrote it. I thought about my father. Before he disappeared, he used to come up from time to time, take the train in from Orange. I don’t know why I never went out there to see him, but I think because he liked the train and I never wanted to argue with the old man. Also, he wasn’t one to argue with. He came in, and looked like he hadn’t slept for a couple days, but he was getting old, so I don’t know. We drank pink box wine and talked for a good long while. He mostly talked; I listened. He brought up a bag of tangerines with him from the bodega on his walk from the station. He peeled them in the living room, carefully with the small pen knife on his keys, arranging the peelings into small bowls inside bowls (it’s hard to describe, so imagine). After he ate the tangerines he ashed his cigar into the peels. It was messy. I told him he couldn’t smoke in my place, but he said that it wasn’t even my place, it was my mother’s and that was the only way I could afford to live here. That was all we said about my mother, but I don’t think that’s all we said about my mother—if you understand. He asked me how I could live with those guys’ dog yapping all the time. I told him I didn’t mind it. He told me that I never mind anything and that’s why I am the way I am. I didn’t know what that meant, and I argued with him. I mind many things, I told him. But he didn’t seem too impressed. He mentioned something about Montana, going there, and that’s maybe where he died. Who knows? He says there wasn’t enough sky, here. He needed more sky. We all need more sky. That’s why they asked me to leave—Jim and John—I got drunk and kicked the dog, I think, because my dad didn’t like that dog. It yaps too much, I said. And I began yelling at my neighbor about the smell of ammonia coming from her place. She said I didn’t even live on the same floor, that I didn’t even have to walk by her place. I told her I did, though. Often. And I think that bothered everybody. They said I should leave and that’s why I went out to Queens without a way to get back. Maybe someone would shoot me, I thought. They say that happens in Queens—like, not Astoria. No one did shoot me, though. No one even spoke to me. Soon, you’ll be walking by my window. It is getting late in the morning. I would come out and say hi, but you’re such a fast walker.
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