Season’s Greetings from NYC and I Hope These People Die Like Pigs

Tree seller on upper Broadway

Another year is coming to an end, filled with festivities and joy here on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. The Great Christmas Tree Shortage of 2021 appears to be less dire than predicted judging from a few active stands I walked past yesterday on the way home from a doctor’s appointment. We paid $80 two weeks ago and have no regrets. Our tree is covered with the ornaments we bought on our pre-pandemic travels and it smells wonderful. Somehow, in my self-underemployed semi-retirement, I feel more engaged with the little pleasures of the holidays — at least, I do when I stay home, thus avoiding the constant rage triggered by maskless morons on the street. However, I used to love going out for lunch, especially when working full time in a home office, and I know that outdoor settings are relatively safe, no matter how stupid the people around me might be. The pandemic-induced habit of staying in for days on end is one I must break.

Today I had a good excuse to go out. My task was to lay in our traditional Christmas dinner from Citarella. I try to give myself permission to feel the unalloyed happiness that the holiday brought me in childhood. One thing that brings me happiness is Citarella’s stuffing selection: sausage, wild rice, chestnut. I don’t mind paying $30/pound for osso bucco and $12/each for crab cakes, for Christmas comes but once a year.

I do mind that a large poodle was getting its nose all over the tubs of stuffing in an open case, one of the very items I intended to buy, while the owner did nothing. Bringing dogs into food stores violates federal regulations (poodles are not service animals). I carefully took my tubs from the back, where they were presumably uncontaminated. It’s a good thing I don’t carry a gun.

On the way home on the bus, two heavy bags having made subway stairs difficult, three teens were having a loud conversation and therefore exhaling lustily. One of them, whose nose was not quite covered, eventually pulled the mask off both his nose and mouth while the girl beside him made loud barking noises that visibly disturbed most other passengers. There has been a series of stabbings on New York City public transit recently and people are on edge. I wondered if the kids were vaccinated, but then, I’m sure they and their parents are model citizens.

I moved to the front, trying to put some distance between myself and their exhalations, where I found myself across the aisle from a fellow senior citizen with a mask down off his nose. I wondered if he was aware of it. He answered my question by picking his nose delicately with his pinkie and ring fingers. With any luck whatever he transferred into his nasal passages will kill him within a month.

I maneuvered my bags through the streets, weaving around people too obsessed with their phones to watch where they were going. I’d noticed them on the way to the store too — they are omnipresent — but they’re more of a burden when you’re carrying something heavy.

Safely (?) home, I saw a tenant standing by the elevator intent on her phone and could tell she had no intention of waiting for me, let alone holding the door for the senior with two bulging bags, though I was just a dozen feet behind her. The exterior door, which is probably heavy enough to knock someone unconscious, smacked my elbow loudly as I lifted one struggling arm to stop it from closing.

She then apologized profusely, so fine. It is the season of love and forgiveness. I don’t ask for much from strangers, just a little basic courtesy and consideration for others amid a public health crisis. Season’s greetings to her. May all the others die like pigs in a slaughterhouse.

But is that tree awesome or what? The lights are red, white, and blue to celebrate my roommate becoming a citizen after living in the United States for nearly 30 years.

Here’s my Christmas present to myself. This year marks the song’s 50th anniversary. Took me years to decide I liked it but I finally caved and bought a copy. Thank you, John, wherever you are. Peace, Yoko.

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Author of The Friendly Audio Guide and the annually updated Practical Home Theater (quietriverpress.com).

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Mark Fleischmann

Mark Fleischmann

Author of The Friendly Audio Guide and the annually updated Practical Home Theater (quietriverpress.com).

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