I returned to my building on a Saturday night during Passover a few months ago to find a bowl of macaroons on a stand in the lobby. A man and woman, probably in their late twenties, were staggering toward the elevators in front of me. I watched as the man clumsily peeled off to the bowl of macaroons while the woman traipsed toward the elevator.
The man and I reached the elevator at about the same time. The woman was inside, holding the door open. He popped a macaroon in his mouth.
"What are you eating?" she asked him as the door closed.
"... And you didn't get me one?"
I felt like I was observing a real-life version of what I'd imagine an episode of "Whitney" is like.
"So you thought you'd get yourself some snacks while I've just been standing here waiting in the elevator? You didn't think to yourself, you know, 'Maybe she'd want one...'?"
We were now at my floor. I got off the elevator... and, to my surprise, so did the man.
"What are you doing?" the woman asked.
"I'm going to go back down to get you a macaroon."
As the door closed she wailed, "I don't even want one now!" I gave the man a parting look, and he shrugged in my direction, as if I was implicitly on his side. I looked down and then turned and walked to my apartment.
A bowl of macaroons likely instigated a tense few minutes of silent co-existing, a fumbling apology, a somewhat stilted brunch the next morning. Of course, if the macaroons hadn't been there, it would have been something else: a vague text message read aloud, a misplaced mug, an inadvertent laugh.
Yesterday I got on the elevator with the same woman; I hadn't seen her since the macaroons night. She was texting on her phone, but she looked up when I pressed the button for my floor. We locked eyes. She looked almost frightened, as though she recognized me from a recurring bad dream that she never wakes up from soon enough.