This is the last memoir excerpt I’ll post here for now. Left of the Dial is set to go on sale on amazon.com and bn.com on January 1st–New Year’s Day–in two days.
One day Jon and I ventured to Times Square to eat in Red Lobster yet again. It had become our constant meeting place. He liked it because everyone walked through its doors: black, white, Asian, Latino. The two of us were at home in this world and lingered there over our dinners.
We walked along the street as the night settled in. He followed me into Sephora and waited patiently while I had the makeup artist choose a new foundation for my face. It was NARS in a shade called Fiji in a refillable compact. I stayed there pushing up the tubes of lipstick and decided to buy Pigalle, a chocolate pink.
“Okay, glamour girl, let’s go,” he prodded me to get in the long line.
“How wonderful it must be to have a job where you get to wear pretty makeup and give other people makeovers.”
The women at the check-out counter wore hot-pink wigs, and the sole guy rang me up. “No wig?” I asked him, and he laughed.
We headed over to the restaurant and were seated quickly. It had a seaside lobster special that I ordered. Jon ordered the fisherman’s platter. Our waiter started calling him buddy, as in “I’ll get you that right away, buddy” when he asked for a diet soda.
I only drank the tap water when I dined out, and I refilled the glass numerous times. I took out my new pill box: a white oval one with a silver lipstick design on it and two inner compartments. I had collected numerous pill boxes recently. One was a blue ceramic one with the Starry Night scene on it. I also had two large boxes for traveling—the same one in different colors: with silver stars for the morning and with a black mock croc for night.
Truly creative, I felt choosing and using the pill box according to my mood or who I was dining with elevated taking the medication to an art form.
“I got you something.” Jon reached into his pocket and handed me a small box. I opened it and inside was a gold charm with the words: The Best. “You’re the best.” He smiled.
I wanted to wear this beautiful necklace around my neck when people came to view me at my funeral.
“Friends till the end?” he asked.
“Friends till the end,” I said as he crooked my pinky in his.
We tucked into our food when it arrived.
Jon asked me how the manuscript was coming along, and I told him.
“Left of the Dial will make people smile.” He laughed.
“I want it to inspire others. It’s not another hell-and-heartache story, so I don’t know if it will attract a publisher. There’s a name for that trend: misery memoirs.”
“I expect an autographed copy.” He returned to eating his food.
“How’s Sam?” I asked Jon about his fiancé.
“She moved in with me. I might have to move out.” He laughed again. “I have no closet anymore.”
I could understand because I was over at his apartment for a party, and it was cramped. My own apartment had one coat closet in the dining foyer and a small closet in the bedroom. That was the liability of New York City living.
“Do you women really need sixteen pairs of the same black pants?”
He got me, though I wanted to tell him that something always set them apart: the design on the back pocket or the boot-cut or flared leg.
“Would you like dessert, buddy?” The waiter was suddenly back at our table. “How about you?” He turned to face me.
“We’ll get the check,” Jon suggested.
We paid and exited the building into the twilight world. It was as crowded as if it were noon. I took the train with him one stop to Thirty-Fourth Street, where he continued, and I transferred to the F.
I reached into my tote and pulled out a book to read on the trip home. The secret to success on the subway was always having something to read. Oddly, I wasn’t the only one turning pages on the platform and heading into the train.
You put on your game face living with this illness. The other riders wouldn’t have the idea that you have a master’s degree or that you were a public service librarian. You were just another person trying to find your own city Zen.
I wondered about the other riders: what was that woman like under her Calvin Klein suit? Did the guy with a briefcase visit a dominatrix?
The advent of Carroll Street was always good news. I exited the downtown train with my Sephora tote bag and walked down the street like I had somewhere to go.