50 States of Hell

Hawaii is the happiest state in America. New York ranks as the unhappiest. It is my state and I wish that I could be with my children in Thailand. Holding my son and daughter is paradise for me. Maybe I can fly to Asia in two weeks.

One good sale would pay for the R/T ticket and I had two new good customers.

Several years ago I was speaking with an older woman in the diamond exchange. Everyone else had early closed for the Rosh Hashana. The nickname for the high holiday of repentance was ‘rush-a-home-a’ and people get very religious when it comes to getting out of work early.

Only our store and Marsha’s were open.

My boss, Manny, was busying with paperwork. His son, Richie Boy, had left at 4 with his Brazilian wife and older brother. They were dining with Manny’s ex-wife. Hilda had invited both of us to her table. Manny said the same thing as me.

“Thanks, but not thanks.”

Neither of us wanted to schlep back and forth to the island.

Across the aisle Marsha was also in no hurry. She was meeting her good friend for dinner. Marsha had millions. Much more than Manny. Her wealth came from the hard work of her husband and herself. Marsha’s wrist was marked by a tattoo. The work of the Nazis. Her late husband was a friend. We shared the same taste for good things. He could afford them. Not anymore.Paul passed away the previous year, leaving Marsha everything.

Marsha’s children had begged for her to come to dinner. She wasn’t going to the suburbs. She liked sleeping in her own bed.

Me too.

“Tomorrow I’ll go to Long Island,” Marsha spoke the two words as if the suburbs was purgatory. She had been brought up in Berlin. Her family had lived on Behrenstrasse. The good life. Even three years in a concentration camp had not destroyed her love for Europe. She knew my history of living in Paris and said, “It’s not Ile St. Louis.”

“Nothing in New York is Ile St. Louis.” I had lived on Rue des Deux Ponts with a Vogue model during the 80s. She slept with many men. Never me. It was better that way. “I loved waking in the morning and walking to the cafe opposite Notre-Dame.”

A cafe, croissant, and Calvados.

“This city is for animals. I’m sorry, but no one here has any class.” Marsha adhered to the old ways and was appalled by the lack of dignity in America. “The people are good, but they are slaves to TV. No one reads anything. They speak about trash and the way they eat, feh.”

Her tongue clucked with a disdainful hiss.

The city’s restaurants were crowded with wealthy hedge fund bankers. They were the only ones with money.

“The reason that I don’t get a laser operation is to avoid seeing the ugliness of this city.” A 100 mph storm had devastated my neighborhood the previous evening. “After the tornado I looked at the sky. The end of the storm was beautiful. We have to enjoy these small moments. They make the ugliness forgettable.”

Marsha shrugged with surrender.

“Three weeks ago I was in Switzerland. The mountains were everywhere.” Her voice softened with the memory. She had been a widow for over a years I had offered to marry her on more than one occasion. Her laughter each time made us both happy.

Almost happy as Hawaii.

And that was a good state of mind.

Especially after Manny said that it was time to go home before 5.

It was most certainly ‘Rush-a-home-a.”

Tannah Shova.

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