Man­hat­tan Man­ners

This amus­ing short story by Marianne Har­man is set in New York.

The People's Friend Special - - TRAVEL -

IFELT like quite the New Yorker, cup­ping my hands around my take-out cof­fee on an early morn­ing walk along the Hud­son. Across the river, the sun was just reach­ing the New Jersey sky­scrapers.

Where they gave way to open wa­ter, the Statue of Lib­erty stood proud, guid­ing the fer­ries into Man­hat­tan. There was barely any­one around, just the oc­ca­sional jog­ger.

“Man, I hate tourists,” an an­gry voice growled in my ear.

I jumped and swerved out of his way, squeez­ing my cup a lit­tle too hard.

The top popped off, send­ing a hot stream of black cof­fee down my new white jacket. The man hopped from side to side be­hind me.

“Ma’am, please, pick a side.”

“Yes, of course, I’m so sorry,” I said, my nat­u­ral po­lite­ness kick­ing in.

He ran past, shak­ing his head and mut­ter­ing, doubt­less all the horrible things he re­ally wanted to tell me.

I tipped away the rem­nants of the cof­fee and blinked back the tears that were threat­en­ing to spill over.

“Aun­tie Kate, are you all right?”

I pasted on a smile, not want­ing my god­daugh­ter Emily to see me up­set.

“Yes, I’m fine. What brings you out so early? I thought you’d want a lie-in.”

“I was wor­ried about you, so I came look­ing. I saw what that guy did. Hon­estly, so rude!”

She pat­ted me.

“Oh, your beau­ti­ful jacket.”

She rubbed the stain, press­ing it in.

“Re­ally, what a to­tal id­iot. Never mind, we can get it dry cleaned.”

“It’s OK, I’ve got another one, and it made my bum look big any­way,” I said. “Come on.”

I slipped my arm through hers.

“I’m starv­ing. Let’s get break­fast.”


“So, what do you fancy do­ing to­day?” I asked Emily be­tween mouth­fuls of pan­cake.

“I thought if you don’t mind we could have a look at MoMA. It’s the Mu­seum of Mod­ern Art.”

I shot her my best teacher look.

“Oh, re­ally?”

“Sorry, I know you’ve been to New York be­fore.” Her spoon stopped in mid-air, yo­gurt wob­bling pre­car­i­ously.

“What’s wrong?”

“It’s him, that guy who ran into you this morn­ing!” She was cran­ing. “Look, over there, he’s with a girl about my age.”

I swiv­elled in my seat. “No, don’t ac­tu­ally look,” she hissed, glar­ing at him.

“Emily, for­get it. It doesn’t mat­ter. Come on.”

I tapped my de­fi­antly old school travel guide.

“Let’s sort out our plan for to­day.”

“Crikey Jupiter, they’re com­ing over here!”

“Fine, there are plenty of tables. By the way, you do know you said, ‘Crikey Jupiter’ out loud?”

“Yes, I do, Aun­tie Kate,” Emily said, sweetly bat­ting her eyes. “I am mak­ing a spe­cial ef­fort, just for you, not to go to Swear­ing­ton this week.”

“Thank you, but what­ever will I do with my smelling salts now?” I teased.

The ta­ble shook hard. I in­stinc­tively shot back as cof­fee slopped into the

New York­ers weren’t famed for their po­lite­ness, but this guy took things to another level!

saucer. Not again!

The man sat down. “Hello,” Emily said. He ig­nored her.

“Hi,” the young girl said. “You don’t mind if we sit here, do you?”

“Bit late now,” Emily mut­tered.

I flailed un­der the ta­ble look­ing for her foot and kicked hard. The man looked up.

“Did you just kick me?” “No,” I said, blush­ing. “I mean, if I did, I didn’t mean to.”

“Even though you to­tally de­served it,” Emily said un­der her breath.

“Par­don me?” the girl said.

“Your – this per­son,” Emily said, jab­bing her fin­ger at the man, “ran into my aun­tie Kate this morn­ing, throw­ing cof­fee all over her. He was re­ally rude, didn’t say sorry or any­thing, and now her coat’s ru­ined.”

“‘This per­son’,” the girl said, im­i­tat­ing Emily, “is my dad. Look, I don’t know what you’re talking about, but it’s ob­vi­ously a prob­lem us be­ing here.

“Maybe you missed the memo that the Bri­tish don’t own Amer­ica any more, but hey, what­ever, we can go

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