When Skeptics Die
The other day I was trying to catch a cab in the pouring rain in midtown, the umbrella I had purchased on a whim from an Ian Schrager hotel blown inside out, my cashmere sweater set so drenched that after it dried I would be able to donate it to one of the better-dressed poodles in my neighborhood. I waved madly at each passing cab, knowing the exercise was useless and that I was going to miss an appointment to get my hair done. The overpriced, inside-out umbrella was more hindrance than help, and it was pretty clear I ought to let it go—I had thought I was getting to be quite the pro at letting things go—but I kept a zealous grip on the silly smashed thing, sprinkled with the names of sleek pleasure domes from around the world. It had been at the Mondrian, in Los Angeles, that I acquired this umbrella, a business trip for me, though Richard had come along. We’d forgotten that it ever rained in LA.
I noticed that I had competition: another woman, effectively umbrellaed, had suddenly appeared with her arm thrust out to hail a yellow cab. I turned to glare at her, and she at me, and we realized at roughly the same moment that we knew each other. About fifteen years ago, in Cambridge, we had belonged to the same circle of friends, all of us graduate students. We used to give weekly dinner parties as proof that we’d grown up. We were all connected to Harvard or MIT or BU, and most of us actually lived in down-scale Somerville rather than Cambridge. The most distinct memory I could attach to her was that she had once made a Sumerian feast (she claimed it was, anyway) as a send-off for an Assyriologist acquaintance of ours who’d struck it big with a job at Chicago’s Oriental Institute. There’d been grilled quail, boiled leeks, something extraordinary with white beans, and hand-stuffed grape leaves. It had been very impressive, even if no one could verify that any of it was actually Sumerian.
About the Author
Yael Goldstein, a new contributor, is a young writer living in Brooklyn. She is at work on her first novel, Failure: The Dazzlingly Successful Life of Tasha Darsky.