The Nice Thing About Strangers

Non-Fiction Short Stories. Travel, oldsters, love, moments worthy of pause. Monday, Wednesday, Friday.

Your Easter Dresses, Love Grandma.

Grandma is buying the girls a pair of Easter dresses–the fluffier the better. Her two granddaughters stand close and grin. They love the dresses; Grandma adores the dresses. One is … Continue reading

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The City of Strangers

He had this voice so deep it rumbled along the back beams of the bench we were sharing. I arrived very early for an appointment and thought I should sit … Continue reading

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So, Thank You.

Originally posted on The Nice Thing About Strangers:
Flirting with the narrator was a sure way into the story. He must have known this, though certainly half her age. He…

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Office Decoration and The Pencil

Pnin purchased for three dollars a faded, once Turkish rug. With the help of the janitor he screwed onto the side of the desk a pencil-sharpener–that highly satisfying, highly philosophical … Continue reading

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There’s No Crying in the Vienna Airport

I’m crying in the airport. Just returning from a trip, feeling a bit overwhelmed with heartbreak and worry, it is nice to be back in familiar Vienna. I know how … Continue reading

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Say Peynir!

Originally posted on The Nice Thing About Strangers:
From a spot in Gülhane park, one can keep a clear sight of the lines of people posing with the Atatürk statue.…

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The Opportunity of Everyone

For the time being, by reflecting on what exactly the culture of human cooperation is, a culture that has, at its foundation, the idea that the other person has much … Continue reading

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In the Standings

Granted it is a baseball card exhibit. For a New York City museum guard, it must have been different from the ceaseless Picassos. The cards feature baseball players from a … Continue reading

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The Smartphone Slaughter of Small Talk

Originally posted on The Nice Thing About Strangers:
This was a job for the large round table in the sportsbar. The Grandmother seated herself between the mother-type woman and her…

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Originally posted on The Nice Thing About Strangers:
I get to sit by him! The little old Japanese man I spotted back in the glacial airport check-in lines–he’s in my…

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A set of parents wrangle their two sons near the checkout for the Burlington Coat Factory. While Mom makes final selections and pays, the tallest boy keeps moving toward the … Continue reading

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Finding Your Field

—Life is whatever we conceive it to be. For the farmer who considers his field to be everything, the field is an empire. For a Caesar whose empire is never … Continue reading

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Swiss Miss

Originally posted on The Nice Thing About Strangers:
The Zürich airport thinks it is better than you.  It refuses to be a mere place for waiting to depart, refuses to be…

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How To Be Clever

The man who writes very little always has the advantage over the one who writes a lot, since his every phrase is carefully constructed; just as the person who stays … Continue reading

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En Garde

Runaways from a political rally, two helium balloons clap together. They are entangled above an intersection, caught in a wire on the side of an apartment. A man in a … Continue reading

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Fearless Zumba Septuagenarians

Originally posted on The Nice Thing About Strangers:
Zumba is like a cruel trick on the elderly ladies in the sparsely populated fitness room: an eight-dollar drop-in fee for overly…

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On The (This Isn’t A) Road

Trying to get back to the chapel, I find a sign that points vaguely at two different roads. Perhaps it’s Robert Frost’s eyebrow-raise that points me to the red rocky … Continue reading

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Love Your Neighbor (Coffee Helps)

The man in the seat in front of her is restless during the flight. Watching movies, shifting in his seat, opening a book, closing it, writing something, stopping. She’s just … Continue reading

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Out with the Girls

I feel that I am growing old, I feel lonely and in need of the support of old friends, in which (in my case) rather small battalion I certainly count … Continue reading

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The Beloved

Originally posted on The Nice Thing About Strangers:
It’s an ordinary stoplight. Everyone waiting for permission to move on. And the blonde dog shivers, always nervous to ride in the…

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For Harisa.

Five years ago, I met a beautiful woman from Bosnia on a flight. We spotted each other before we boarded, and since the plane wasn’t totally full, she came over … Continue reading

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On Gratitude

It is an intensely long line at passport control. Flights keep arriving and people keep cutting. A tall man and I are both determined to stick to the vaguely orderly … Continue reading

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How To Get Rid of the Hiccups

She has the hiccups. Her husband wears a golf cap. They are extremely slow in shuffling to their Buick. The snow has turned to patches of slush, some just puddles … Continue reading

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The Impatient Italians and the Fighting Irish

In Medjugorje, there’s a crowd of people entering the church, praying at the grotto, climbing steep hills in prayer. It’s a place of retreat, usually quiet, usually peaceful. This morning … Continue reading

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It’s the Department of Motor Vehicles, so no one is really crossing any items off their Bucket List around here. The lack of enthusiasm shows in glum faces, distant stares, … Continue reading

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This Seeing of the World

But he went on to reflect that he had done very wisely to pull up stakes and come abroad; this seeing of the world was a very interesting thing. He … Continue reading

March 3, 2014 · 8 Comments


Originally posted on The Nice Thing About Strangers:
In a row of souvenir shops by the Hagia Sofia, a tiny girl with blonde curls wanders ahead of her mother, who…

February 28, 2014 · 2 Comments

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