John

Self-portrait with letter, January 31, 2019

Self-portrait with letter, January 31, 2019

I have written about my friend John, maybe about ten months ago. We met on the train from NYC soon after I started dating Jared. He was Jared’s pal from around. John, well, thinking of John makes me smile. John is a wise-cracking, irreverent writer. We usually talk about the ‘old days’ and how they were much better than today. This is amusing for a few reasons, one being he is much older than me.

John likes to leave jubilant messages on, I was going to say our answering machine, but we did away with our telephone/answering machine about five years ago, yeah, he leaves messages on Jared’s or my cellphone. Mostly my phone, because I am the phone user in the house and so I get the return phone calls and messages.

Back in the answering machine days, he’d start out, “Ja-red. Ra-chelll. [slightly slow, rolling cadence then with emphasis like a newscaster] It’s 98 degrees with 100% humidity in New York today. Temps are expected to go through the roof. Chaos in the streets and unrest on subway. [tempo picks up] Listen, I only have a couple minutes before I head out the catch the train, but I wanted to leave this message. Jared, you’re probably playing a Sun Ra record right now. Rachel, you’re probably photographing an abandoned rail car. Enjoy this heat. Heat breaks on Friday. Ciao.”

We’d listen and say, “John’s the best. This heat sucks. He’s crazy.”

A week later, we’d get a pile of color photocopies and handbills from John. Stuff like a 1967 newspaper cover that reads: “Gang Girl Kills”. And, some old clippings about the heatwaves in NY the same week as the killings. Or, some oddball current articles from The New Post. Or, a flyer from Chinatown. Maybe some copies of his photographs of some corner of New York City. Or, some copies of Bernice Abbott photos of NYC, back in the day.

What can I say. I made John’s day earlier this week. And, he made mine today when I got his reply. No doubt, he’s complaining about this weather and counting down the days ‘til Daylight Savings.