A Tiny Anthology of Five Very Unordinary People


“Hi, Mrs. Kassoy, this is Ben’s pre-school teacher.”

“Oh, hi. Is something wrong?”

“Well, have you seen what Ben is wearing today?”


“So you’re aware his face is painted like Batman and he’s wearing a cape?”

“Yes. And…?”

“And you know it’s school picture day, right?”

“Listen, is there a problem? Because I really need to get back to work.”


“I got a good deal on this one.”

She ran her fingers over the elk head inked on her forearm.

“My tattoo artist friend broke his hand, so he started doing them left-handed for a discount. I think it turned out pretty well,” she said, and reached for a bite of my French toast.


At our prom after-party, I grabbed Bone by the back of the neck without warning and pulled him in for an open-mouthed kiss. At that moment, before he could pull away, I extended my digital camera out in front of us — this was 2007 — and perfectly captured what would years later become known as a selfie.

Bone — who is straight; so am I — was cool with the ambush and even that I immortalized it on camera. In fact, he asked me for the photo and gave me a framed copy of it on my next birthday.

Mrs. Cohen

Some say Mrs. Cohen takes a lot of pride in her appearance. Others say that’s a euphemism, that she is very vain.

One time Mrs. Cohen urgently had to run an errand and didn’t have time to apply makeup. She couldn’t stand being seen in public without it, so she went to the pharmacy wearing a full burqa.


Zoe lives in my building.

She’s lived there for decades.

Zoe is 67 years old.

She is one of the slowest-moving people I’ve ever seen.

She uses a walker and often has her aging dog tethered to her wrist.

It may take Zoe several minutes to climb the one flight of stairs to her apartment.

Zoe lives with multiple sclerosis.

And diabetes.

Not long ago Zoe competed in a race.

A long race.

A marathon.

The New York City Marathon.

She finished it.

In 33 hours and 9 minutes.

It was the slowest marathon in women’s history.

As of 2013, Zoe had completed 25 New York City marathons, all in last place.

Sometimes I see Zoe in our building. Her dog waits patiently as she checks the mail.

Ben Kassoy is the Managing Editor of DoSomething.org, the coauthor of eight books, and a former online columnist for Glamour and Details. He has a Twitter, a Facebook, and a website.

Like what you just read? Please hit the ‘recommend’ button and subscribe to our digital magazine about creativity and beyond, Inklings.

Like what you read? Give Ben Kassoy a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.