by Phyllis Chesler
There they stand, an earnest row of brownstones right opposite my Manhattan apartment house, exactly the view I had when I lived in Park Slope in Brooklyn. For the last few nights, I saw a single woman sitting at a desk in a well-lit, unshaded, top middle window, her head bent, just so. Edward Hopper might have painted her, another lonesome Christina, but in an urban setting; unknowable, silent. Hopper’s Americana at my very window.
Lou the cheap beer sommelier
Perhaps the author should have used a telephoto lens for this? What is "earnest" about the apartment buildings in the photo? My apartment building is more utilitarian than it is "earnest." Prior to renting in my building, which I am not complaining about, I did want to live in an "earnest" apartment complex. But they were all much more expensive than the utilitarian apartment complexes I looked at uptown. The apartment broker told me that my current building is "just about earnest" but not quite fully earnest and that a real earnest building meant at least another 900 per month. There is a doorman who stands in front of our building who politely opens the door for all the lonely Christinas who live there. In fact, there are 5 women named Christina who live on the 4th floor. This has to be beyond mere coincidence. I am certain that the doorman's name is "Earnest". I asked him once about this. He said it was true. And he went to Cuba once secretly and people there asked him his name and he told them it was Earnest and everyone of them, all of them, actually, asked him if he was a writer. He told them all that he was a writer. He said he laughed at this later and then returned to the apartment building to open the door for the Christinas on the 4th floor one of whom is a chef at a well known restaurant on Bleecker. One time, the doorman named Earnest went into this restaurant for dinner with his wife not knowing that one of the 5 Christinas from the 4th floor was the co-owner and head chef. He saw her at the vegetable station preparing asparagus with a butter truffle sauce and said, politely, "Hello, Christina." She nodded respectfully so as not to make an error with the asparagus with butter truffle sauce. I am told that the asparagus with butter truffle sauce was perfect. This Christina is an excellent chef, but at least two of the other Christinas are very good home cooks. When the chef Christina returned to the building Earnest opened the door for her. So many stories in the city!!
Lou is right.. there are so many stories in the city. Most of them, however, don't need to be told.
Good grief, if there is such an experience! The author is simply painting a picture in words, tapping the cortices and limbic systems and traveling the corpus callosums of the readers. Some dullards take issue with ‘earnest’ unable to assign significance and attention to related meanings of ‘sturdy’, ‘honestly honorable’, and ‘yeomanish’ to a human’s otherwise inanimate design in brickwork housing, homes for the living. What a shame! After we diminish and demolish the Taj Mahal let’s convert the rubble into eternal toilet seats and urinals for near-indestructible tardigrades!
Well, it’s about 2 AM this morning and I’m still annoyed in behalf of Ms. Chester, whose portrayal of civilized sensitivity received boke woke disaffection. How weird of me to be provoked by the picture of fallen rectangular stars framed in brick (I feel the bricks’ roughness tickling my palms), evoking a yearning to know more about the residents’ hopes and dreams. Do I read too much into Ms. Chesler’s presentation? If so, accuse me as you did Zola, for daring to speak some, to me, obvious truth. Your apology is accepted.
I kinda like Lou's various comments. He likes to take the puff out of pompous sails in a very humorous way. Keep it up kid.