It was spring and the ladybugs were once again washing up on the shores of Brighton Beach. Where they come from, I don’t know. But every year you can find me harvesting them so they can be released into a more suitable environment.
One day, a few years ago, I found them surfing on reed rafts that the beach cleaning machine, the Barber Surf Rake, swept down its throat as it went. Suddenly I had a new mission.
When the vehicle approached, I held on and motioned for it to stop. The operator glared at me from the driver’s seat.
“Sir,” I say. “I know you don’t realize this, but you kill ladybugs.”
I held out my bag full of bugs, waiting for his angry response.
He looked at me, incredulous.
“Ladybugs? he said. “I love ladybugs.”
And he left, leaving behind the reeds and the ladybugs.
My girlfriend and I had developed a hobby of trying new pizza places and learning all about pizza.
She was from Brooklyn, and one summer weekend she took me to a pizzeria deep in the borough where she had gone as a child. He was selling pizza and ice cream from a window to customers seated at picnic tables in a patio.
We went to the window to order. Looking past the cashier, we could see large, thin, circular pies and smaller, thicker, rectangular pies.
“Are these granny slices? asked my girlfriend.
The man at the counter wasn’t too interested in answering questions.
“We have round type and square type,” he said.
We had one of each.
Cherry red Vespa
A shiny, cherry-red Vespa had been parked on the same corner of my neighborhood of Bensonhurst for at least a year, in rain, snow and sun.
It was there every time I passed by on my way home from a morning run. I always wondered who it belonged to and if it was high enough.
Then one morning I heard the hum of an approaching scooter as I drove home. It was the cherry red Vespa.
The driver wore a matching cherry red shiny half-face helmet, leopard print jumpsuit, red backpack and aviator sunglasses. Curly auburn hair trailed behind her.
She turned right and disappeared.
It was Christmas season in the 1970s. My sister and I, teenage girls living in suburban New Jersey, were on a mission to find a special gift for our mother.
We took the public service bus to Port Authority and left from there. Hours of shopping came to nothing, probably due to our extremely limited budget.
Our last stop was Bergdorf’s. It was dusk. The store was sparkling and filled with stylish customers. We were clearly out of place. My sister was in overalls; I was wearing an old duffle coat.
Nevertheless, we were determined. And there, in the shoe department, we found it: an elegant pouch in thick black fabric with a simple silver clasp. It was perfect. It was even on sale!
We counted well. We had just enough to make the purchase and pay for our return trip. Then a horrible realization: we forgot about sales tax. We couldn’t afford it.
Across the bustling lounge, a salesman with silver hair and a trimmed mustache seemed to be watching our intense discussion unfold. He walked towards us.
“Can I help you, ladies? he asked, talking to us as if we were rich matrons.
We explained the problem. After looking at us thoughtfully, he suggested something we had never heard of.
“Perhaps you could have the bag shipped to your home in New Jersey?” he said. “Then you won’t have to pay the tax.”
Astonishment, then joy! He smiled as we tried to express our thanks.
The clutch arrived on time and our mother loved it. It was part of many special occasions in his life. After his death at 95, we found him among his belongings in perfect condition. My sister now uses it for special occasions.
The #1 train I was hoping to catch to be on time for my dinner was only three minutes away when I got to the station. Lots of time, except for one thing: I couldn’t unbutton my back pocket to get my MetroCard out of my wallet.
The more nervous I was about missing the train, the more impossible it became to unbutton the pocket.
Finally, time is running out, I explained my situation to a young man who was on his way to the station.
After hesitating at first, he leaned over and unbuttoned my pocket. I thanked him profusely.
“It was a first for me,” he said.
“And for me too,” I replied as the train pulled into the station.
Illustrations by Agnes Lee