As fantastical as cities like ash-Sham and al-Quds had seemed from the caravan men’s tales, the Jinni doubted that they’d been half so wondrous or terrifying as this New York.
Fact: If there were a button I could press to make Sir Patrick Stewart a regular fake news correspondent I would never stop pressing it
I just. I can’t get over that Patrick Stewart apparently just moved to New York with the sole purpose of becoming this eccentric wonderful NYC character who shows up where you’re least expecting him just to spread delight.
The literature: Adelle Waldman’s THE LOVE AFFAIRS OF NATHANIEL P.
The libation: You’ve gotta go to this party. You’ve cancelled on her last two invitations and bowing out again would be unforgivable. You’re here, your makeup’s done, you’re dressed. You have to go. Under no circumstances can you turn around and get back on the G train and crawl into bed and watch something mindless on Netflix.
You’re standing in the aisle of the faceless neighborhood liquor store on Nassau, staring at the wine selection without registering what’s in front of you, trying desperately to talk yourself into some degree of enthusiasm for the party you’re already late to. The host is a college friend, someone you told yourself over and over you’d stay close with, even as the two of you grew further away from whatever common interests you’d once had. Still, you force yourself to see her a couple times a year out of vague obligation or nostalgia, or something.
You refocus your attention on the shelves of bottles in front of you, trying to find that sweet spot between cheap and drinkable (shoot for something in the range of $2-3 more expensive than the cheapest bottle they offer, then pick the one with the prettiest label - that way people will have something to remark upon even if it tastes awful - and remember, shitty white is always better than shitty red) when the bell over the front door jingles. Two figures enter and suddenly you’re half-turned towards the door, making eye contact with him as he stops short. The girl with him looks a little bit like you, if a more generic version of you, but then again every girl he dates looks a little bit like you, or you look a little bit like every girl he dates, you’re not sure which. She looks from his face to yours and back again, and you see the moment where her eyes change from curious to studiously neutral as she realizes what’s happening.
You stand there, three people looking at each other look at each other, until your lizard brain kicks in and you pull a bottle off the shelf - it doesn’t matter which one, not anymore - and walk purposefully (but not too fast) past them to the cash register. Barely breaking stride, you push a ten and a couple ones at the bored Polish man behind the counter and slide the bottle into your purse as you walk out the door, not waiting for a bag or your change. You know without looking that behind you the girl who looks a little bit like you is turning to him with a question in her eyes, and you know more or less how he’ll answer, and you know as your heels click back down the subway stairs that you’ll drink the whole bottle tonight, regardless of how bitter it tastes.
Photo © Tony Alter
This book is a totally wonderful mindfuck, by the by.