When Parallels Intersect

He lost his balance. He fell and now he was rolling down the stairs. He bumped into something. A screaming lady. Shit…How much money would his insurance have to pay for her? Luckily the screams ended. He’d stopped rolling.

Why are people gathering around and staring down at him? Why is everybody quiet? Their faces look frozen in various stages of shock. What is the ambulance doing stopping by? Who’s the guy trying to pick him up?

“Sir, stop hurting yourself. I’m too heavy. Get some help,” he would like to say. He can barely move his head. There is blood all over around, sipping through the asphalt.

He is sitting in a pool of blood. Strangely, he does not feel hurt. Another ambulance is coming. More strident sirens violate his senses giving him a migraine. Why are people so frightened? Why would they be frightened by a morbidly obese guy who fell down the stairs and cannot stand up by himself? He’s no ISIS. He’s killed nobody.

On Dec 10, 2015 11:01 AM,  she <she@aol.com.> wrote:

Why did I have to wear high heels? Am I in a flirting mood? Damn it.  Just because I’ve been alone for so long. Oh, gosh what’s happening to me? I’m blushing. I wish I had my compact powder with me.

On Dec 10, 2015 10:57 AM, he <he@aol.com> wrote:

Luckily the mint chocolate chip ice cream took away all my doubts. A giant poof. I wasted my time coming all the way midtown to meet this woman to help me get insight into the human psychic. How foolish of me. I have enough insight into the human psychic. My body vibrates with self-confidence. I’m sweating a bit too much. It’s so hot. How can it be so hot in December? Thank god I carry a kerchief with me to wipe my face. Oh, my phone is vibrating. It’s my office. I wonder who will attempt to be Peter Pan this time. Oh, no, I have an excuse to stop waiting for #She. She’s five minutes late. Do all women make themselves late on purpose? Do they think it makes them interesting? If they were to ask me it makes them disposable. Look at me, I am texting her that I have to go. Hasta la vista senora #She. Look at me, I am taking two steps at once.

On Dec 10, 2015 10:47 AM, she <she@aol.com> wrote:

I never liked obese people. What if he charms me so much that I fall for him and I forget all my prejudices? How can I live with myself? Would that be bad?

On Dec 10, 2015 10:40 AM, he <he@aol.com> wrote:

What did I think I would get from meeting her? What insight could she offer me into people’s way of thinking? Gosh, I am sighing heavily. When have I stopped breathing and started sighing? Forget it. I’ve been trying to find out answers all my life to the question of living: why some people keep on living while others don’t. To no avail. And now I hope a blogging mother of two has the answer. What can she possibly know? Oh, here comes the ice cream truck. It’s barely 10 AM. I guess the winter is not a season anymore. It is a label in clothing stores: “Dress for Winter.”

He waves to the vendor to come to bring him a chocolate chip ice cream cone. “I give you a $5 tip,” he screams and the vendor comes up to him.

“Oh, how I wished I could skip the way I did as a kid playing in the school yard. But then, I doubt I skipped back then either. I have always been rather big and cautious,” he reminds himself.

On Dec 10, 2015 10:32 AM, she <she@aol.com> wrote:

What am I doing here meeting a stranger in front of the NYC public library? And my heart is racing. Perhaps because I have not seen this marvelous  midtown building in years. It’s so imposing. And the lions in front of it. So majestic. I wish my life has had anything this imposing as these lions. Gosh, I feel like roaring. Here I am opening my mouth…and nothing comes out. I feel like a roaring mouse. Not yet a lioness. And am I going to waste myself on this morbidly obese stranger, by his own admission? What a fool I have been to come here without my anti-anxiety medication I took during the divorce proceedings. It was a big mistake. But then, didn’t I throw it out when it became clear that there would be no divorce? That foolish man thought he was going to leave me and our beautiful marriage. I showed him freedom. The freedom to remain behind a walled door. That was quite a few years ago. Perhaps it is time for me to open that space. When the girls go to camp I will do it. Oh, I better stop thinking about Mel. Here is a newsstand. I should pick up a tabloid paper to pass the time while waiting for #He.

On Dec 10, 2015 10:20 AM, he <he@aol.com> wrote:

What could possibly have gotten into me when I contacted her? That would remain unclear. But, her blog simply called “Hashtag SHE,” was intriguing. She made amazing psychological observations. It irked me so much I started a Twitter account as #HE. Let’s check her blog:

“My upstairs neighbor banged in my walls so hard I thought a genie lived in my cupboard.” That was lame in itself but #SHE continued. “Then, when I was ready to leave the building I tripped over the garbage-filled bags my neighbor had moved from the stairwell to the common hallway.” Good, some minor incident with a drunken neighbor. But no, here came the golden tidbit. “That inexplicably angry behavior from someone in her 30s, modestly attractive, displayed on a Sunday at noon did not make any sense.” Here I became mesmerized.  “My neighbor clearly wanted attention. As a single lonely woman she might have found weekends terribly painful.”

That sort of insight was spectacular. Almost all suicides happened on Sundays, with some leftover for Monday mornings.

On Dec 10, 2015 9:34 AM, she <she@aol.com> wrote:

I took the bus that morning because a man, with whom I only corresponded via Twitter, with the hashtag HE, wanted to meet me.  #He said he had read my blog entries and found them fascinating. He sought my help. He is a forensic psychologist and works with the NYPD, whatever that means. He needs my insight to solve the problem of suicide. “Why do people kill themselves?” I cannot believe he’s serious, but why would he lie to me? He suggested we meet on the top of the stairs at the NY Public Library at 42nd street. He warned me I should not be impressed by his size although it would compete with the library lions.  He was clever. That was an intriguing remark. How big could he be?

On Dec 10, 2015 9:35 AM, he <he@aol.com> wrote:

What is the purpose of billboards? Too many billboards on too many tall buildings. And they are so colorful and so attractive. I could imagine someone taking the elevator to the last floor and then break the lock to the roof door only to jump off the building. Of course it is likely, especially if the billboard on the building across the alley advertises “Google music for the undecided music lover in everyone.” Talk about indecision with a suicider and watch him jump. The slightest note of condescension would force the note. “I’m decided damn it. I’ll jump right now.”

On Dec 10, 2015 9:30 AM, she <she@aol.com> wrote:

How I wish it were Sunday. I enjoy Sundays the most. I can eat all the cookies amassed during the week for Sunday. It’s great sugar-starving myself during the week, so I can binge on Sunday. I wake up early, before the kids, make coffee, pick up The Times from the common hallway – I do enjoy door delivery – take the can of cookies and go onto the terrace and start having fun.  It is fun. This past Sunday the big news was George Bell, the 70 year old man who was found dead in his apartment this past July. Six large pages of The Times prime section A. It started on the first page in a bid for the Pulitzer for the human interest story with the least human impact. That was so upsetting. In a world full of meaningful news which could affect the lives of so many, The Times wasted its space on some 70-year old man who died anonymously in a city of anonymous lives.

On Dec 10, 9:29 AM, he <he@aol.com> wrote:

Hiccup. The prelude of a brief anxiety attack about solitude. Look at the couple next to me. They are in love and judging by their marriage bands they are married too. How interesting. Marriage is not for everybody so why am I feeling down? I have never considered it. Like the hors d’oeuvres served before a big meal. I never consider eating or cooking hors d’oeuvres. They destroy my appetite. I  do make an exception for hard boiled eggs stuffed with mayonnaise (deviled eggs). I go crazy for them. I blame that uncontrolled behavior on my mother. It’s my only memory I have of her: slapping my hands when I tried to get one at her Sunday parties. Now, every time I touch that appetizer I end up in the emergency room. I love them as much as I imagine I loved mom. I would eat my portion and then steal everybody’s and then would start screaming for more and when everybody would have been forced to give me their half bitten eggs I would bite them to get me what they have ingested. Hard boiled eggs and mayonnaise make me into a cannibal.

On Dec 10, 9:27 AM, he <he@aol.com> wrote:

The subway is so slow and I have nothing to read to distract myself. I could stare at people and imagine their story. I love starting with their shoes. The guy across has dusty shoes. And dusty shoes open so many storylines. Oh, look, that person has laces. At a minimum, laces denote nimbleness to bend and tie them.  The biggest challenge, but one I welcome, is sneakers. Then the bearer could be anything: poor, overweight, above fashion trends, or even a Marathon runner. Sneakers have always invited a brief “hello.”

On Dec 10, 2015 9:23 AM, she <she@aol.com> wrote:

I cannot believe my eyes.  The Times published an article discrediting the sterilization device Meredith, my ObGyn, recommended a decade ago, after one of my abortions and right before the PlanB pill was approved.

“Are you done with having children?” Meredith asked me sternly.

She handed me some pamphlets about the newly FDA approved device.  I was lying naked on the observation table, my knees pushed apart.
I felt like giggling. Or maybe hiccupping. I had resigned myself to pretend I was tired.

“Make an appointment with the girls. I’m free next Wednesday. We will do it right here. It’s a 10-min surgery. I insert a little plastic clam which stops the sperm getting inside.”

She followed me to the front desk and instructed the new assistant to give me the 9:00 AM appointment next Wednesday and curtly left. I expected a pat on the back. I was getting ready to kill part of my female charm, the impregnable part. Something in my enthusiasm, or lack of it made the assistant chatty.

“How long is your menstruation?” She asked.
“Up to 7 days.”
“It will double.” Then she continued while taking down my information. “How heavy is the flow?”
“It will probably triple in your case.”
I liked her openness. I made eye contact and waited for more.
“I had the surgery. Not bad. Ten minutes.”

The nurse had a beautiful smile. And then I remembered. The nurse was not new. She’d been with the practice forever. I was getting to ask her if my guess was correct,


“Yeah, it’s me. Only much heavier. I  know it’s crazy. With all the blood I lost every month, and I was still able to put on so much wait. Maybe you want to think about it.”

It only took The Times a decade to disclose the nefarious news.

On Dec. 10, 2015 9:20 AM, he <he@aol.com> wrote:

Last night I had the munchies. My eyes blinked longer and I dozed off enough to dream of mini cupcakes.  The closest location was Baked by Melissa at Union Square. I knew it from past visits. I did not use Google maps.  In fact I enjoy memorizing locations rather than use Google Maps.  What if someone decided to reconstruct my last supper and discovered I went to a cupcake place and once there they would trace down the frequency of my visits and conclude I had been suicidal? I eat much too many cupcakes for a man whose family members tend to die one by one of diabetes—obese with heart ailments and insomnia.  I suffer of cupcake induced insomnia.

On Dec. 10, 2015 9:19 AM, she <she@aol.com> wrote:

I don’t know if I like going places. I’m perhaps the only restless person who refuses to go places.  Here I am in this bus. Restless but sitting down, and going somewhere.

On Dec. 10, 2015 9:18 AM, he <he@aol.com> wrote:

I dislike taking the subway. I take it when I go out to a play or a restaurant, and when I need to socialize. Why am I willing to submit myself to a subway trip this morning?  Because I cannot take a taxi. I only take taxis to attend funerals. And every time I take a taxi I wear clean clothes.  Crisp clean.  This memory comes back: The only time I started a fight was when my Korean cleaner refused to starch my linen shirt under the pretext that only cotton shirts were starched. He was so stubborn, and I had to miss Colin’s funeral. I couldn’t go looking like a slob.

On Dec. 10, 2015 9:17 AM, she <she@aol.com> wrote:

Why didn’t I pour some rum into my morning coffee? That would have made me less anxious. How I wish bars were opened in the morning and served coffee with Bacardi Rum. Bars are perfect research venues. I love going to bars and watch alienation in action.  Oh, here’s a good idea to scribble down to post on my blog later on. “I’m a soul surgeon,” or perhaps not. I am a soul painter. I paint my intuitions on my blog.

On Dec. 10, 2015 9:15 AM, he <he@aol.com> wrote:

If I want to make it to my appointment with #SHE, then I will be late for work, because I will have to take the subway right back. My office is two blocks away from home. I am lucky and I do enjoy the envy my job causes when I go to MaryO, the neighborhood’s Irish bar, and tell people I had left work 5 minutes earlier. I am already thirsty for a beer.

I do love my job with the police department. It is interesting. It forces me to meet people. People who struggle to stay alive. People who survived jumping off a building .

Sometimes I show up right on time to see NYPD officers carefully folding up­­ the huge inflatable ­­mattress used to discourage people from jumping off buildings.  It makes them look like Peter Pan. Few adults like to be seen as searching for Peter. That’s why the next time they try to kill themselves they won’t use the flying method.  They would do it quietly, behind a locked door. Most likely in the bathroom while taking a hot bath and tens of candles will be lit around the tub.

On Dec. 10, 2015 9:10 AM, she <she@aol.com> wrote:

I am all ready for my meeting. This is so exciting. I am finally going to talk to a man about alienation. He seems to be obsessed with it too.  After decades of grappling with the monster I finally have my way in: “#SHE, it will be my pleasure to meet you and talk to you about alienation. I am as miffed by it as you are. Yours, #HE.”

On Dec. 10, 2015 9:01 AM, he <he@aol.com> wrote:

Despite all expectations for greatness, the year turned out to be unremarkable. Except for my brother’s death. But even that had been on my mind for the last five years since Colin, my brother, had been scheduled for a heart transplant. But now, I am finally going to make some human contact outside work. #SHE is a woman who has not butchered a suicide. #SHE is reasonable. Likable. A mother of two. I need to turn a new page. I am ready.


First published in Cultura de sambata 

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