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On Dating : What Should I Get My Sister? - kale & cigarettes
On Dating : What Should I Get My Sister?

On Dating : What Should I Get My Sister?

I was doing one of my long walks through the usual route – East Village, Lower East Side, Soho, Washington Square. It was cold but it gave me a great excuse to wear my jacket, scarf, hat, and gloves. A combination of attire that I could only dream about in California.

I was coming through Astor Place when it suddenly felt like an Erica moment. I pulled my phone out of my pocket and FaceTimed her. 

She answered with a smile. I smiled in return. Her eyes were bright.

“You look so pretty,” I said.

“Thanks. So do you.” 

“You just look so happy,” I continued with a grin.

“I am happy. I’m in Paris.” 

I asked her more about her trip, where she’d been, and how it was going. Eventually, we got to the topic of the journal. 

“Why was it such a big deal to you? You seemed more concerned about that gift than us having sex,” she said.

Her line of thinking was that I was ready to have sex the night we kissed but I completely shut down in the face of a relatively simple and kind gesture. 

“In my defense, you can’t really think I’m just around for a hookup, right? It took me five dates to kiss you even though it was probably there on night one.” 

“Yeah that’s what I thought but then it didn’t make sense why you got so weird about the journal.”

“The journal felt really serious. Like, it was an incredibly thoughtful thing and it made me think about all the expectations you might be starting to have for me,” I said.

“It made me think you were sure in that moment about wanting a relationship… and I’m not there yet,” I continued. “So it wasn’t just a gift. It was a whole statement about where you were at and where you wanted to go.”

“I do want a relationship,” she said. “I’ve been one foot in, one foot out for the last few years. I don’t want to keep sitting back and playing casual. I’m ready for something serious.” 

I scanned the top part of my brain for something true to say in that moment. I wasn’t there, that was for sure. But I wasn’t ready to walk away, either. She was solid and certain moments with her made me feel solid too.

“I do eventually want another relationship. I just need to take it slow in the beginning. We are still getting to know each other and I’m just coming out of a marriage. It’s going to take me a little time,” I said. 

Just then, a notification popped up on the top of my screen. A text from Maddy. She was still in bed because work wasn’t starting until the afternoon. All the calm and ease that came with Erica was absorbed by the rush of excitement in my chest from Maddy’s text. She was more familiar. I don’t know why, I don’t know how, but I’ve always chosen excitement over ease.

Before hanging up with Erica, I told her I was looking for a bday present for my sister. She mentioned Patagonia. I said I was hoping for something a little more New York specific, but went in the store anyway. 

Erica and I hung up and I called Maddy as a garbage truck drove by the front of the store.

“Wow, that’s loud,” she managed as her first words.

“Oh, there it is again,” as the truck made another round.

“Maddy, it’s time to embrace the day,” I said.

“I’m working on it.”

Then I was having a nearly identically conversation with her about what I should get my sister. 

“I don’t know, all I can think about is food right now,” she said.

“Oh my god, I’m going to get her a New York slice and bring it back on my flight tonight,” I said.

“Okay, that’s actually good. It’s funny and it’s cool.”

“It’s done then,” I said as an ambulance went by.

“Oh no,” she murmured. 

“Okay, I shall let you go. I know it’s hard enough for you to face the day without this added struggle.”

“Thank you. You’re kind.” 

I grabbed a granny slice from Scarr’s and dialed Erica back up on the old FaceTime because I was ready to settle into something smooth again. She was with her friend from Barcelona in her Paris Airbnb. 

“I got her a slice of pizza,” I said.

“Oh that’s great, actually. You should get her some bagels too.”

“Good call. I’ll let you get back to your friend.” 

We waved into the screen and hung up.

I stopped in at Tompkins Square Bagels and got pumpernickel, egg, and cinnamon raisin bagels. 


My sister posted a photo of the haul and said it was her favorite bday gift tbh.

I reposted to my stories. 

Erica messaged me a series of smiley faces. “Glad you got the bagels!”

Then Maddy messaged me. I texted her, “Wait, did you just message me on IG?” as she hadn’t furnished a new post in years. 

“Yes, simultaneous communication platforms,” she said.

“You are sooooo welcome for the food suggestion btw,” she continued.

“Is someone wanting full credit for this?”

“UM YES.”

“I don’t remember it that way. I think you were saying something awful about I heart NY t-shirts when I shut you down,” I said.

“After I suggested those shirts, which people love by the way, I said all I can think about is food. And then you got the pizza idea. Sooooo, I planted the seed.”

“Okay, so it was a pure collaboration, then? As in, the optimal experience between two people?”

“Is that what collaboration means? I don’t do that in my line of work.”

“I wonder why.”

“MADDY”

“THANK YOU”

“YOU HAVE GREAT IDEAS”

“Thank you. No but honestly you did a great job and I’m glad she liked her prezzies so much.”

“WE did a great job. Can you live with that?”

“Sure sure I can live with that but I didn’t see any credit for OUR idea so I just needed to get some recognition.” 

“You were credited in the room with my sister, don’t worry.”

“That’s nice she knows I exist. I can go to Brooklyn a little happier now.”


I told Ashley I texted Maddy that I was going to miss her.

“Dude, you are so corny,” she said.

“I’m not corny, I’m romantic!”

When I got to the airport I texted her that I arrived uncomfortably early, turned off all the lights in my apartment, and was wearing normal pants. I found myself almost unrecognizable. And there was a fringe possibility that I might miss her a little bit in the next few weeks. 

“I am honored to witness your transformation. When I was walking to work today I wondered if it would be too early to say I will miss you, but I will.”


Ashley later apologized for calling me corny. She said it sounded cute and fun and she was mad because her LA guy was just tagged in a photo with his ex on a trip and she was currently hating men.

“Maddy and Erica will both end up like me in a few months,” she said. 

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