‘My Husband and I Got Married at the City Clerk’s Office in February’

‘Chapel of Love’

Dear Diary:

My husband and I got married at the City Clerk’s office in February. Our appointment was at 9:15 a.m. on a Friday. We were only allowed to have one witness at the ceremony, so my sister-in-law joined us while other family members waited outside in the car.

Afterward, we walked to Jack’s Wife Freda for a celebratory brunch. As we sat down and waited to order, “Chapel of Love” by the Dixie Cups began to play loudly over the restaurant’s sound system.

Our waiter came out with cava for the table, with other members of the staff following behind, clapping to the beat and smiling.

The rest of the patrons joined in the merriment. No one complained that their quiet weekday breakfast was being interrupted by the celebration.

My eyes filled with tears.

— Sarah Henry

Does It Matter?

Dear Diary:

Does it matter what others think of us?

To find out, I gave my cognitive behavioral therapist’s assignment a try: Get on a bus and call out the stops and points of interest, the whole route, loudly and clearly.

I knew I was not likely to run into anyone I knew on the M14, so on a spring day, I stepped on one, paid my fare and began with barely a whisper:

“Here’s the Eye and Ear Infirmary,” I said.

“The Con Ed Building,” I continued.

By the time we got to Union Square and the site of the old Luchow’s, I was belting out the sights and stops.

Most everyone had edged away nervously or slipped out the back.

Finally, at Seventh Avenue, I swung down the aisle.

“Is this the last stop,” I asked the driver. “Or do you head downtown?”

“I don’t know, lady,” he said. “You’re the tour guide.”

— Frances Schwartz Wheeler

Emergency Repair

Dear Diary:

It was December 1995. I was working at a Madison Avenue ad agency and I was on my way to a new colleague’s holiday party in Carroll Gardens. I was 22, ready to conquer the world and quite flattered to have been invited to the party.

My friend and I had just come out of the F train station when I felt as if I’d stepped into a deep hole. Looking down, I saw that the heel on one of my new black boots was barely attached.

I wasn’t about to show up at the party with a broken boot, but I wasn’t going to turn around and go home.

There was a bodega up the block, and we went in looking for Krazy Glue, which I foolishly thought would be enough to fix the heel.

The young woman at the counter asked why I needed the glue. When I showed her, she called out something in a language I didn’t understand, and a young man in military clothing appeared with a large toolbox.

He motioned for me to give him the boot, and then he proceeded to power drill the heel back into place. I stood there balancing on one leg like an awkward flamingo as people came in for milk and bananas.

The young man reattached the heel and even put some layers of cardboard inside the boot so that I wouldn’t feel the screws.

I offered to pay him, but he refused and sent me off with a gentle warning: Don’t dance too much.

— Alina Shteynberg

Near the Ancient Playground

Dear Diary:

I was waiting for a bus at the corner of 85th Street and Fifth Avenue. near what is called Ancient Playground, where a young boy and his grandfather were playing with a beach ball.

Suddenly, a gust of wind blew the ball over the playground fence. A man walking his dog stopped the ball, picked it up, walked toward the fence and tried to throw it back over.

The ball went even higher in the air and was on its way onto Fifth Avenue when a cabby parked nearby jumped out of his taxi, grabbed the ball and ran it back toward the boy and his grandfather.

He pulled out the plug on the ball, let out the air and slipped it through the fence.

I and the others who were waiting for the bus gave him a round of applause.

— Dave Clark

Long Tent Dress

Dear Diary:

A friend and I were on the subway to Brooklyn. We were standing and chatting, holding on to the pole at the end of the car.

I was wearing a long tent dress from Marimekko. Since I am 6 feet tall, the dress presented as a large swath of fabric as I leaned on the pole.

A seat next to us was empty, and construction worker in hard hat and work boots asked whether we would mind if he sat down. He said he had been injured at work that day.

Of course, my friend and I said. We continued to chat as the train crossed the river. It was clear that the construction worker was eavesdropping on us.

At a break in our conversation, he spoke.

“Excuse me,” he said, “I hope you don’t mind me saying this, but that dress would look a lot better with a belt.”

— Celia Rodrigues

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Illustrations by Agnes Lee

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