Wanted: the perfect man

On ne voit bien qu’avec le cœur. L’essentiel est invisible aux yeux. – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Willoughby Street stretches for a little over a half mile from Willoughby Plaza in downtown Brooklyn to St. Edwards Street on the west side of Fort Greene Park in Fort Greene. Compared to Myrtle and Dekalb Avenues, which flank it to the north and south respectively, Willoughby is a relatively quiet street. In May of 2020, barely two months into confinement, it is deathly quiet. With hardly a car in sight, a person can walk down the middle of it if she wants, a cat can sun itself on the warm pavement, school children can jump rope. A cow can play tennis.

Water stain for Vaca deportista (Willoughby Street, Brooklyn)

A cow playing tennis in the middle of the street? With joyous abandon? The world is a dumpster fire right now, and yet this cow is smiling. Brightly.

“There is so much to be happy about!” She exclaims.

And then, because she needs to hit the tennis ball, the cow is off running.

Vaca deportista (6 May 2020)

A cow running: who can ignore it? It is thunder. It shakes the earth under your feet, rumbles in your ears; it paralyzes you, arrests your thoughts, calls you to attention.

“There is imbalance in your existence,” this cow yells over the sound of her stampeding, “You have allowed your professional life to completely take over your personal one, much to the detriment of your mental health!”

Thunk, goes the tennis ball against her racket.

“Get your ass to the head of school’s office this week and negotiate a contract at three-quarter time for next year!”


Thunk, thunk.

And you, in response: “Three-quarter time? In Brooklyn? Who the hell can afford to live in Brooklyn on a three-quarter time salary? Are you out of your mind?”

But it’s like she doesn’t hear you. It’s like she doesn’t care.

“Time!” She yells, “You are about to experience a profoundly transformative period in your life! You need to give it lots of time!”

As for what you are going to learn during this transformative period of your life, this cow has nothing to say. That part of the equation she leaves to another cow, the one in the tutu flying gracefully through the air.

Water stain for Grand jeté

Like the cow playing tennis, this one is a Holstein, which is just a fancy way of saying dairy cow. Whoever ran the farm this one came from did not remove its horns, though. She is as she was in the beginning: whole and unaltered. In the event she had to defend herself against a wolf or a coyote or a lascivious bull who’s had one too many martinis, she could do it.

“You have in your possession every tool necessary to sustain yourself,” this dairy cow says at the top of her grand jeté. “You are strong, intelligent, and resourceful; you can take care of yourself! You don’t need a man!”

“But I want a man,” you say, “a perfect one!”

Did she hear you? Of course she heard you. She has taken note, she will deliver the message:

Wanted: the perfect man.

On the receiving end, God scrolls through his rolodex, finds what he is looking for, files it away. When the hour comes, he’ll put this perfect man on your path. But because he will only be visible to the heart, you must get it ready, you must train it to see. This work takes time, lots of time; just like the cow playing tennis said.

Grand jeté (6 August 2020)

Author’s note: This piece is a significantly reworked version of New World (16 July 2023).


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