New York Tales from Curious Borough Dwellers

004 : Kristin Gardner around Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn
Born 1900s in Nashville, Tennessee. Kristin Gardner currently works as a writer, a waiter and knitter. Why New York? Her fingers are too short for the guitar. She digs the following Gotham bits: Spontaneous culture overload, baseball all summer, moo-shu chicken at Wo-Hop, the grid and the way the subway can get you anywhere while you read or knit. She is, however, a bit miffed by sidewalk spitters, the month of March, rent, guerilla assholes and unrealistic expectations. For more info on Kristin Gardner you should send an email.

image: Lou Bueno

“He was a lawyer, after all.”

We walked up the steep rake of Park Slope together, headed for the Green Market at Grand Army Plaza, the monumental entrance to Prospect Park and the terminus of Union Street.  Together again, finally – after two years of negotiations between what I wanted and what he didn’t want – on-again, off-again had been on-again for about a month since he’d invited me to accompany him to the wedding of some friends and told me that he was ready to want what I wanted, ready to plan for the future and consider making our own family one day.  Leaves scuttled across the sidewalk in front of us and clung to the curb just as his musk clung to the shoulder of my cardigan, as it had when we first met and fell in love.  It had been fall then, too.

We reached the Plaza, the Civil War triumphal arch[1] with its bellicose Defenders of the Union looming over the rows of white tent roofs shading displays of farm-fresh fruits and vegetables, oven-fresh breads, and mums in varying shades of red and orange.

Park Slope mommies thrust strollers cradling toddlers in our way as we sought out the tent with the yummy apple-cinnamon muffins. 

We found it just beyond one of the eagle-topped Doric columns that herald the entrance of the park.  Focused on the pastries as we were, he didn’t notice the muffin girl until he looked up to order.  His eyes widened, his body stiffened and shifted ahead, obscuring me to a dark corner from which I would watch my future fall apart. 

“K-Katya!” he stammered.

Her eyes brightened to his gaze, her hips leaning to one side, as did her full-lipped smile of sexual promise.  They exchanged pleasantries as if I wasn’t there, their body language betraying a carnal undercurrent, perhaps realized, perhaps not yet.  Then, to make manifest my intuition, he remembered me standing behind him, turned and gestured in my direction, saying –

“This is my friend, Kristin.”

Friend.  Sitting on one of the marble benches beneath the columns, I tried to eat my muffin, but it stuck in my throat.

“I’m not your friend,” I told him.

As I stumbled defeated down Union Street, the Defenders pointing their impotent bronze swords toward us from the Arch, he asserted that he’d only said that he thought maybe he might be ready to want what I wanted, but that it didn’t mean that he was ready.  He was a lawyer, after all.  He’d been sure to pepper his speech with escape clauses.  I left him on the sidewalk in front of my building at the bottom of the hill that is Union Street, went upstairs and threw my cardigan in the hamper.

referenced works

  1. Where the giant Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Grand Army Plaza now stands used to be a bronze statue of Abe Lincoln. The statue was moved in the 1890s when the arch was built. Abe's now at Concert Grove in Prospect Park.

location information


017That's when I knew I wanted to live in New York: in the midst of those fragile bralets and bodysuits.— Ling Ma

016The guns, we tell the police later, were black like ice.— Tara Deal

015...my own talisman against the folly of my youth.— Andrea Jarrell

014Y'all in a band'r somethin'?— Abraham

013Perhaps it was the lanky teenager with the bright red book-bag that made me think I saw Adam.— Carrie Teicher

012I remember flattening myself against the streaky windows of the PATH train like an insect.— Erin Fisher

011I glanced up to see another shape hit the sand.— Ken H. Judy

010Vibrating almost imperceptibly in the breeze like a woody tuning fork.— Rob Giampietro

009Then the jazz stopped and the radio said the war had started in the Middle East. — Roland Kelts

008Shirtless Boris Yeltsin’s skin reddens as he reads a book.— Michael Maiello

007Port Authority was there with open, non-judging arms.— Khoi Vinh

006His almost-loss was my almost- nonexistence.— Matthew Rand

005On the cold hard floor of the orphanage, I sang, longing for the day that they would come and rescue me.— Jen Egan

004He was a lawyer, after all.— Kristin Gardner

003The parking lot gate was open, and we ran in with the skateboard.— Lorraine Martindale

002We arrived on completely Russian streets, with Russian signs and a familiar rudeness.— Kseniya Melnik

001...the hourly clicking of Oxfords and high heels across the parking lot.— Tam Nomgum


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