Every now and then, when I find myself in the Trader Joe’s on 72nd and Broadway, passing the frosted beta-carotene-carnauba wax-glazed sugar cookies, I think of Zoe Berg. She is a hyper-passionate, fount of information about a half dozen idiosyncratically identified existential threats to human existence. She’s very sweet and always has a smile on her face that’s so wide it makes my cheeks hurt just looking at it. She was born in Westchester, New York, into a wealthy family. Her mother, Jill, was working on Wall Street. Now she has her own painting gallery in Mamaroneck. Her father, Rob, was a class-action lawyer. He ran for mayor of Scarsdale in 2018. At 23 years old, 2 years after graduating from college, Zoe lives in a 200 square foot apartment on 70th and Columbus. She commutes to Long Island every day to an environmental justice organization exposing the hazards of cell phone radiation. Whenever I feel the need for a dark black of hole of fear in my life, I have dinner with Zoe.
One particular day, we went to her favorite salad place which has organic lettuce, spinach, carrots, avocado, red onion, lima beans, artichoke, tomatoes, and beets, but does not have organic chicken. Zoe has discussed this with the owner. She warned me about the dangers of environmental toxins such as radiation exposure from 5G technology. She told me about her most recent misadventure involving her boyfriend Albert’s new apartment and the smart-meter that the building installed adjacent to the head of his bed. A smart-meter measures a resident’s electricity-use for the electric company—such as ConEd—to send a bill at the end of the month. One of Zoe’s most recent projects was to lobby members of Congress against 5G and smart-meter technology, due to decades of scientific studies evidencing the neurological and health-related dangers of exposure to these technologies. Zoe’s housewarming gift to Albert was a metal screen to be placed between his head and the smart-meter, designed to reduce radiation poisoning.
Her curly brown hair and bright blue eyes are just like her grandmother’s—my grandma’s ex-best friend. 3 months ago, my grandma asked Zoe’s grandmother to go on a trip to Vermont with her. Zoe’s grandma said, “Vermont’s not really my thing.” That was the end of the friendship, to my knowledge. Luckily for me, this drama didn’t prevent me from getting my semi-annual dose of radiation information.
After that dinner, Zoe walked into the 72nd street Trader Joe’s, bouncing on her toes. She looked at the frosted sugar cookies. “These are death in a box,” she said to me. She put them in her cart. Zoe’s bootcut jeans swayed as she walked around the store, picking out dark-chocolate peanut butter cups and mochi ice cream. “Sometimes you gotta treat yourself,” she said.