Excerpt: My Brooklyn Writer Friend


My friend Ari tells me he’s going to tell me something he does not want me telling anyone. I agree and he tells me about going to a philosophical discussion on aesthetics that took place at a house in the hills. Most of the people had never met before. He says, They had pigs in a blanket up there—but you can tell that part, okay?

Women and men equally in attendance. Some old, some young. Some very attractive. My friend Ari tells me there was a woman and I ask if this is the part I can’t tell. No, not yet. This one woman looked younger but was actually older, just how he liked them. Her fingers were long and he guessed pianist and how did he know, she said, folding her hair before it sprung back to where it normally lay.

The general discussion devolved when someone opened Schopenhauer to show he was right. Then a woman from the Michaels Endowment made gas as she said, Must we be mean? And that you can tell, Ari says.

When a man who named his dog Adorno started yelling about platonic love, Ari motioned for the pianist to follow him out of the room. They were on opposite sides and he thought she was looking in his direction (she was but pretended not to be because everyone could see he was motioning to her) and he kept jerking his head toward the door, desperately trying to get her attention. And that’s a part not to tell, Ari says.

The pianist eventually followed him to the kitchen where he suggested they walk outside, and they did. The grounds were wet from an afternoon shower, yet they moved among the apple trees and began kissing. You can tell that, Ari says, but I’m not so sure they were apple trees.

She knew how to kiss, she was older, but never let that fool you into thinking all older women can kiss well. How old are you? he asked, and I told him the figure. Well, you know what I mean. And my friend Ari decided he wanted to go to Hungary with this pianist right away, and not because she had been there many times to perform, but because he had never been and was a little afraid of traveling to foreign countries that weren’t English-speaking. And that’s probably another part not to tell, Ari says.

Leaning on a tree, he called an airline and bought two tickets so the pianist would know how serious he was about her. And now we are back to the things you can tell, Ari says.

And this woman, who was petite in every way except the fingers and who had a leafy autumn scent about her, laughed and said how Ari was outrageous and she liked outrageous, but outrageous only to a degree and Ari smiled. He knew he had her and it felt good to come to a philosophical discussion with nothing and leave with an older woman—if Flaubert were alive he’d say the same thing. They kissed more because the kissing was of a different nature now—it was kissing with future assurance, so though a little less heated, the kissing had progressed to a satisfied stage. And be sure to tell that, Ari says.

When they came back to the philosophical discussion, the man with the dog Adorno yelled in the direction of a bookshelf, but the room smelled sweeter—potpourried. And then the discussion ended.

As their car keys jangled and people promised to keep in touch and even have lunch some week, the pianist told Ari she would be getting married in Philadelphia next weekend so Hungary might not work so well. And that you can tell, Ari says.

No, I say, you don’t want me to tell that, do you?

Yes, I do. Tell them and tell everyone because I need to put someone in that seat next to me.

Excerpted from My Brooklyn Writer Friend by Greg Gerke, published by Queens Ferry Press. Republished with permission of the author.

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