American Spirit

‘Crack-​A-​Lacking’ for a Living

There’s a banana pumpkin scented candle flickering on the front desk. It’s a nice scent. Very deceiving. As if something yummy and caloric just popped out of Betty Crocker’s personal oven. Then, there’s the sign on the window welcoming walk-​ins and talking about things like headaches and low back pain…

The Mail’s Man In Munhall

It’s three o’clock on a Friday afternoon, and there are people coming into the post office on Main Street with letters to mail and packages to ship and books of stamps to buy and not one of them can resist the candy. Cinnamon drops and peppermints and, “Oh, is that…

The 96th Birthday

Grandma is being really nice about the birthday cake you insisted on baking from scratch for her 96th birthday. Because it’s a little … dense for something that was supposed to very light and airy and angel food cakey.

Seamstress to the Stars

There are fittings on Thursday. Eight costumes still left to make and only two weeks to make them before the first dress rehearsal for The Great Gatsby. And Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre costume designer Janet Campbell is calm.

The Man Who Was Too Nice to be a Car Salesman

Mark just got his desk back. It’s a nice spot in the showroom of Ron Lewis Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in Cranberry. Right next to the doors. Right in front of the nearly floor to ceiling windows, where outside there is a shiny red Jeep next to other shiny cars…

Abby’s World of Cut and Curl

Yesterday was crazy. Like, insanely crazy. Flat irons straightening and curling irons curling and shears cutting and the coloring and shampooing and highlighting. All — day — long.

Mary and the Laundromutt

Right now, Rudy the Doodle is on the grooming table. Mary is giving him the Full Groom. “Everything,” she says, snipping away at his curly, toffee colored fur with a pair of Japanese shears, which are also her favorite kind. Snip. Snip. Snip.

A Barbershop That’s Hair-​Raising

It’s 10:30 on a Saturday morning, there are already four guys waiting in line for a haircut, and no one knows where Tony is.

Anne and the Album

She could sit here all day, really. On the upholstered, wooden chair without wheels that she’ll push from keyboard to keyboard while she’s creating songs in the studio she has set up in her living room.

Relentless Russ and the Virtue of a Work Ethic

Russ has been at the gym for like, 31 years. “Since 1987,” he says. White New Balance sneakers. Red track suit jacket with the words PERSONAL TRAINER written across the back. Handing people the kettle bells and the medicine balls and the 10-​pound weights and the resistance bands and asking…

Ten Minutes of Lovely

“Okay, so I’ll do two hundred of the Hey Rosemary,” Samantha says, tying a white, plastic apron around her waist before opening two, overflowing three-​ring binders. “Wait… three hundred Hey Rosemary. We are really low on Hey Rosemary. I need to make Lady Macbeth again… and I’m out of Gertrude!…

The Singing Barista

No one complains when they come into Jitters Café in Shadyside for their frappuccinos and cappuccinos and caffeinated hot/​iced whatevers and barista Liz starts singing.

Bob and Fritz Together

Fritz is wearing a contraption. Two black, rubber wheels attached to a harness that allows him to bark and roll and bark and roll his way across the grass. He’s been wearing it for four years. Ever since he jumped and missed and fell off one of the concrete steps…

Rocky’s World Behind the Diner Counter

Where’s Apollo Creed? Oh, hardy, har, har. Like he hasn’t heard that one like, ten thousand times before.

Donna’s Dream and a Life of Roller Skating

Donna’s knee has been bothering her lately. Which is why she isn’t lacing up her white roller skates right now, the pair her late husband bought for her in 1963 for, geez, it must have been five hundred dollars. The same pair she was wearing 10 years ago when she…
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