Learning to ride, falling down, getting back on
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Greg Ames is the author of the novel Buﬀalo Lockjaw. He splits his time between Brooklyn and Hamilton, New York, where he is an assistant professor at Colgate University.
Then Hallie meandered in twenty minutes late, glowing in bright colors — orange and green and purple. Her clothes looked like they’d been knitted by a blind person. She wore a scarf on her head and yellow combat boots, and I would give anything to experience that same fear and elation again, the feeling that we were starting something new together.
A man in his kitchen must exhibit dexterity with a chef’s knife. That’s essential. He should also possess a devil-may-care nonchalance around the spice rack and a cunning knowledge of various cheeses. Good, you’ve sailor-knotted your apron. That’s important. You are also wearing oven mitts. A little excessive, but she might think it’s cute. She has a sloshing glass of vino in her hand and a grin on her face. Excellent!
She does not yet know the thirty-six-year-old Addie who will become managing editor of Nylon magazine, the forty-four-year-old first-time novelist, the sixty-two-year-old breast-cancer survivor.
One morning over breakfast my girlfriend, Milana, told me about an old boyfriend of hers who had self-published a chapbook of haiku. Peripheries, he’d called it. He carried dozens of copies around with him in a hemp shoulder bag and sometimes read his poems at open mikes and on street corners.
In the YMCA sauna, Bill Drucker, a pharmacist, was holding forth on the subject of mutual funds, pros and cons, when the door banged open and an icy blast of air slapped everybody’s cheeks. Pontius Pilate strode in, his wool robes shushing against his naked, hairy ankles. “Hello, boys!” he said.
Hearing herself, she waves her hand. “It’s not. . . . It’s trucky.” The words leaving her mouth flutter around her like small, confused birds that keep bumping into each other in midflight.