Nina In New York: Things Can’t Be All Bad

A young professional’s take on the trials and tribulations of everyday life in New York City.

Last night, a woman literally made me stop and smell the flowers.

I was finishing up a walk with Gus during which he had been particularly obstinate and unmanageable. We’d stopped briefly on the corner, and I was letting him sit and stare at a crack in the sidewalk as I gathered my strength for the battle of wills I knew would come when we began to make our way towards our block. I was glued to my Blackberry, emailing back and forth with a friend on the merits of her L.A. supermarket’s new warning sign that certain types of vinegar may contain quantities of lead that can be harmful to unborn babies and reproductive efforts in general. (Sidebar: we’ve decided this is just some namby, tedious California junk and have chosen to heed the solid Midwesterners who chimed in on message boards that their multiple pregnancies were unaffected by their love for balsamic vinaigrette). We had just moved on to lamenting the loss of one of our favorite neighborhood diners when I realized that someone in a parking security jacket was approaching me holding a sprig of flowers from a nearby hedge.

“They smell so sweet!” she said.

“Ah…oh!” I said, stalling as I tried to decide whether she was a) crazy, b) crazy but harmless, c) just a nice person d) going to tell me to curb my dog or e) about to stab me in the neck with a sharpened chopstick concealed in her jacket.

“They smell so sweet!” she said again, more encouragingly, and held out the sprig for me to sniff.

They did. They smelled quite sweet. I nodded and she pushed the flowers towards me a little more. I took another whiff. They really were very lovely. I told her so.

“These are really lovely,” I said.

She looked incredibly excited and told me that she had noticed them, hoping they were the same flowers as the ones a woman in her building had shown her.

“I want to plant them at my house upstate!”

I asked her what they were called and she said she had no idea. Then she smiled, I smiled, and we continued in our separate directions as the mist started to pull together into a drizzle and an ambulance wailed past. She headed south, smelling her flowers, thinking about how sweet they’ll smell in her garden next spring. And I kept on north towards home, dragging my stubborn dog behind me.

(That is, until he got his head stuck in an iron fence in an attempt to eat some flowers. Sometimes the only thing that can make a good moment better is being with an animal who is too simple and happy to worry about anything but what’s for dinner).

Dear Readers: While I am rarely at a loss for words, I’m always grateful for column ideas. Please feel free to e-mail me your suggestions.

Nina Pajak is a writer and publishing professional living with her husband on the Upper West Side.

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  • jessy b.

    Whenever a stranger in nyc approaches me, I think the same. Are they crazy, nice or simply want to rob me? Either way, I stay away bc unfortunately, most of them want to do something bad. Sad but true…

  • SM

    It’s nice to know that a stranger in NYC can approach with a bunch of flowers without being a nutcase, trying to sell them to you, or hoping to distract you so she can grab your purse. Unfortunately, there are enough lunatics out there that it is still necessary to be on guard.

  • Kelly

    You hit it spot on when you said you were worried about a friendly stranger approaching you–it’s sad but in NYC that always causes me to worry. A nice guy started a conversation with me on the subway and I became convinced he was dangerous! Same with another guy in a coffee shop.

  • KPMc

    Maybe your dog wouldn’t be so unmanageable if you didn’t spend the entire time on your Blackberry and actually engaged the dog during your time together. But I know that’s asking for a lot when people wont even engage their own children when they are out.

    I see mom’s mindlessly yapping or texting while missing so many teaching moments and memories of their kids’ young lives. It’s a new world… not necessarily for the better.

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