In her new book, “When Harry Met Minnie” (available from Celadon Books February 2), “Sunday Morning” correspondent Martha Teichner writes of the remarkable friendship and bonds formed when she sought a companion for her dog, and adopted a bull terrier from noted designer Carol Fertig, who was dying of liver cancer.
Read an excerpt below, and don’t miss Teichner’s story on “CBS Sunday Morning” January 31!
When I go to the market, I take my iPod, which has a built-in FM radio. I hang it around my neck on a lanyard and listen to NPR’s “Weekend Edition” starting at eight o’clock. I’m a professional news junkie. I have to be. I stood there with an earbud stuck in one ear, the other one hanging down, half listening to the news, half speculating about this man I hadn’t seen in a long time. I half heard him say, “Carol is dying of liver cancer. She’s desperate to find a home for Harry, her dog. He’s eleven and a half. She’s more concerned about him than she is about herself. He’s got some issues, but he’s very sweet. Would you take him?”
“What?” Suddenly, I was paying attention. “Say that again.” He repeated what he’d just told me, but this time added, “Nobody wants him. The vet has warned her she should be pre-pared to have him put down. Would you take him?”
“Well …” I felt startled and a little light-headed. I knew, I really did, that something big and important had just begun. “Well, maybe, if he and Minnie get along. Possibly.” I suggested getting the two dogs together to meet.
He said he had a car and could drive Harry and Carol to my apartment. In spite of the years we’d been acquainted, all those months we’d spent talking, we had to introduce ourselves. Stephen Miller Siegel … Martha Teichner. When I go to the market, I take my passport and all my credit cards out of my wallet and only carry the cash I need and one business card for identification. I handed it to him. He looked at it and took in that I work for CBS News, that I am a correspondent on a show he watches regularly. When I walk my dogs in the morning or go to the farmers market, I look more like a bag lady than the person people see on television. I wear sloppy clothes and no makeup, but even so, people recognize me, often just because they know my voice. Evidently, walking our dogs at Chelsea Piers, Stephen never made the connection, which is fine with me. He gave me his card and said he would contact Carol.
We went our separate ways. It was a five-minute exchange. That’s it. If I’d been standing somewhere else; if I’d been there at eight forty-five instead of eight-thirty; if it had been raining, and Minnie and I had stayed home, Stephen would not have seen us. In more than two decades of going to the Union Square market practically every Saturday morning, year-round, never, not once, had I ever seen him there before.
Chance had just made us characters in a remarkable story, a very New York story, about friendship and community … about Life and Death, as gloriously rich and funny as it inevitably turned out to be achingly sad.
All sorts of circumstances put us in the right place at the right time that July day, as if we’d been destined to be there, random circumstances that had all lined up just so.
From “When Harry Met Minnie,” copyright © 2021 by Martha Teichner. Reprinted by permission of Celadon Books. All rights reserved.
Virtual Book Tour
You can join Martha Teichner on her virtual book tour for “When Harry Met Minnie,” with events moderated at the National Writers Series (February 4); Gramercy Books (Feb. 10); and the Charleston Library Society, in conversation with “Sunday Morning” correspondent Mo Rocca (Feb. 23). Details and ticket information can be found here.
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