09/28/2021

Claudia Lundahl ~ Listening to Erasure in a Jewelry Booth on the Bowery

My friend Benny owns a jew­el­ry booth on the Bowery, deep into Chinatown, near the bridge. Well, his father owns the booth but Benny works there and some­day it will be his so I guess he kind of owns it. Benny’s in his late for­ties. I met him when I was sev­en­teen; I’m nine­teen now. I like to sit at the jew­el­ry counter and eaves­drop on Benny’s reg­u­lars while I should be in class. One woman comes in every cou­ple of weeks and orders jew­el­ry for her­self and her two daugh­ters – pieces like a plat­inum “A” bedaz­zled with dia­monds or, like, a 14k gold infin­i­ty sym­bol. Benny’s father doesn’t speak too much English but he smiles at me when I come in so I think he thinks I’m okay. He’s nev­er told me to take a hike anyway.

Once Benny made me a mix­tape that had the song “A Little Respect” by Erasure on it. The night he gave it to me he drove me from his apart­ment on 81st street to mine on 73rd and we lis­tened to it on the stereo in his blue Honda Accord. He didn’t real­ly need to dri­ve me home but he insist­ed, which I thought was strange because I walked home all the time and like, it’s basi­cal­ly around the cor­ner, until I realised he want­ed to give me the mix­tape with­out his wife know­ing. I should men­tion I was their babysit­ter, which I guess is weird, but it’s not like that.

Anyway, he has a jew­el­ry client who has a con­nec­tion at Veniero’s which is the num­ber one best pas­try shop in Manhattan prob­a­bly and he brings me box­es of pas­tries some­times. He got me Pearl Jam tick­ets from a dif­fer­ent client and per­son­al­ly I think Pearl Jam kind of blows but I went to the show at the Garden with my old­er broth­er and it was super awk­ward so I prob­a­bly won’t do any­thing like that again. What’s the deal with Eddie Vedder, why is he like that. Benny got me Springsteen tick­ets, too, but I acci­den­tal­ly threw them out because I was keep­ing them safe in an old mag­a­zine. Could’ve scalped ‘em for 300 bones, oh well.

I don’t babysit Benny’s kids any­more but I still use the gym in their build­ing because it’s lux­u­ry and it has a pool and a sauna in it and I still have the fob. Benny asked if he could work out with me but I told him no. I don’t think his wife knows I still use the gym. I don’t know if the door­men know I don’t work there any­more. One night I went into the sauna and there was an old­er cou­ple in there fuck­ing mis­sion­ary style. I ran out and into the lock­er room and the woman fol­lowed me in there and kept apol­o­giz­ing but I didn’t real­ly care that they were fuck­ing I just didn’t want to crush their vibe.

It’s real­ly noth­ing with me and Benny. He’s a nice guy. We’re both lone­ly, I guess. Even though he has a wife and kids and a job and a fam­i­ly. I’m lone­ly because I want to be, because I push peo­ple away, because I like sit­ting in my room avoid­ing my room­mate and watch­ing the Bourne Identity or what­ev­er. I nev­er ask for any of the stuff he gets me and I nev­er real­ly even act pleased when he gives them to me. I think he does it for him­self, not for me. I’m just the recep­ta­cle he can dump all of his good inten­tions into and that’s fine. I’m used to being a con­tain­er, some­thing to fill up or dump out. If it stopped I wouldn’t care, I’d still lis­ten to his mix­tape and vis­it him on the Bowery.

~

Claudia Lundahl is a writer from New York City. She went to the City University of New York. She now lives in London, United Kingdom where she writes sto­ries and drinks a lot of tea.