18
 


 

THE PAST

"I mean, you know, he can be so embarrassing, like we’ll be on the trolley or in the underground and Stuyvesant will do this, well, this thing, like sing, but not exactly, more like vocalize, like he’s some sort of opera star or something, right out loud, except more like a ventriloquist because he kind of throws his voice, like you can’t really tell the sound’s coming from him, which is like weird because everyone can hear it, or at least thinks they can hear it, but the noises all around are like too similar, but not identical, especially when he like harmonizes, like the squeaks and squeals and roars are kind of the chorus for Stuy’s crazy solos; and it doesn’t matter how much I elbow him in the ribs, you know, to make him stop, he won’t shut up, he just keeps on singing till we get to wherever we’re going, then steps off glancing around like everybody else, so like no one ever suspects him, like he never gets blamed; I mean, is that bizarre or what?"

"No, it’s not like I want to, you know, break off our engagement or anything, it’s not that serious, you know, it’s just a little odd, but, well, he like has, you know, some other idiosyncrasies that—hello, hello, can you still hear me; Nance?"

"Must have been the tunnel; where was I? Oh, yeah, my fiancé’s little quirks, you know, like everybody has some eccentricity, I mean, like life would be so boring if, you know, everyone was like exactly the same—which is a bone I’m always picking with Stuy, you know, a bone of contention, not that we have to see eye to eye on everything, but like sometimes his ideas are, well, I hate to say it, but they can be downright creepy, like how he thinks the human race is like all fucked up—please pardon my French—like wars and greed and ignorance and stuff, I mean, he can go on and on for days, and like the point is he believes we ought to be changed, I mean, like redesigned, like recreated, like, you know, all that stuff he’s into, that genetic engineering, like human beings aren’t squirrelly enough without us tampering with ourselves, I mean—hello…"

"No, I don’t know what it was that time; are we back to loud and clear?"

"Anyway, Stuyvesant’s really a sweetheart, despite his ubermensch mentality …"

"You know, like 'able to leap tall buildings in a single bound,' like how he wants to improve on our basic blueprint by fixing us to be non-violent or some such nonsense, fixing us all up, which is my primary objection to his lopsided notions about so-called improvements; I mean, like improvements according to who, him? I mean, he’s a great guy and everything, and like really brilliant academically, but give me a break. I mean, like let him mess with his own genes, but stay out of yours and mine."

"Nancy! If you weren’t my very best friend, I’d send your one-track mind straight back to the locker room."

"Stop! You’re making it worse. Are we on or are we off? You know, for Saturday?"

"Okeydokey; meet me, what, about 8?"

"I bought something really cute, like totally expensive—like my credit card maxed, but, who cares, right, I mean, I put it on another one—very, very simple but absolutely chic; I mean, you’ll die; and, of course, I had to have the shoes and bag to match; but trust me you’ll go green—you’ll all go green—Elizabeth included."

"If I can twist his arm, but, either way, I’ll be there for sure."

"Yeah."

"Uh huh. Me, too."

"Ciao."

 

Juliana, on completing her third revolution of Stuyvesant’s North End apartment building, finally spots a place to park her Mini Cooper—nicknamed ‘The Bumblebee’ for its yellow with black stripes paint job and its maneuvering capabilities (the latter underexploited by Ms Blumenthal’s overcautious training). After several to and fro attempts, introductions to the curb, and realignments with neighbors front and back, the brand new car plus driver come to a seemingly adequate halt—in a ‘loading only zone.’

Stuyvesant, watching from above, has sufficient time left to shave, shower, and dress.

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