My Roommate Barry

A short burst of footsteps preempts a head popping in my doorway. Cloying. A passive-aggressive scowl: “Hey, I’m not mad, but could you…” Originates from Long Island, I think.

Pairs with: A trail of Slim Jim wrappers throughout the apartment, left possibly by me.

Starbucks Barista

Caffeinated contempt from across a counter. A name scribbled hastily on the side of a cup. Judgment. Reticence. Chastened by atmospheric indie rock. A hint of oak. Available literally everywhere.

Pairs with: Venti Iced Hazelnut Macchiato, Extra Shot, Non-Fat, Sugar-Free, Light Ice, No Whip.

Soon-to-Be Ex-Girlfriend Michelle

“Okay, babe, listen…” Amused by her own presumption. Acidic. Sour. Raisiny. Although, full body.

Pairs with: The inability to navigate a shifting maze of erratic moods and poorly communicated demands.

My Dog Harvey

A cute, muffled squeal, like a train conductor’s whistle dulled by warm autumn breeze. A tilted snout. Those eyes! Easily subdued with treats and toys. Forgiving. 50% cocker spaniel, 50% poodle, 100% cockapoo.

Pairs with: Separation anxiety. Haircuts. Floppy ears.

Guy Waiting in Line for
New iPhone at Apple Store

A grumble and a mutter. The reveal of an older iPhone to play with while waiting in line. A surprisingly tart attitude; he’s surrounded by urban peers and, more importantly, by technology he loves. Herbaceous.

Pairs with: Avoiding existential loneliness.

Guy in Bar Hollering at
TV During Football Game

Inebriated wails, recessed by gnaws of spicy buffalo wings and sips of yellow brew. Masculine; certainly more so than me. Unaware his cheering doesn’t actually affect the game. Somehow endearing.

Pairs with: “ARE YOU BLIND?” “COME ON!” “I CAN’T EVEN.”


Packaged in a daily phone call. Lacks originality; rarely advances past remarks on job status and significant others. Consists of “tisks” and interrogation, most of which can be diverted with white lies.

Pairs with: Career hurdles. Relationships, or lack thereof. Mostly everything.

Guy Next to Me on Plane

The removal of headphones; tilt of a head. Reminiscent of cocktail party small talk. Licks a finger, flips through SkyMall. Like caffeine before bed, you’re not sleeping.

Pairs with: Turbulence. Peanuts and pretzels. Mr. and Mrs. T’s Bloody Mary Mix.

Baby in Highchair Behind Me at Restaurant

Irritating, as it was designed to be. Appropriate for age. Buttery. Not thrilling, but reasonable.

Pairs with: Hunger. Dirty diapers. Momma.

Me Missing My Morning Train

Bitter. Audible sighs leave an aftertaste with fellow commuters. A routine check of the time and schedule. Useless, really. I know when the next train arrives; this happened yesterday.

Pairs with: Extra game of Temple Run. Extra game of Candy Crush. Eating a Slim Jim.