Close encounter of the tourist kind
While waiting impatiently for the crosstown bus at 86th Street (on my way to meet a friend, how dare it keep me waiting?), a rather hale and robust looking man, with coloring which spoke to a level of non-pollution that isn’t possible in the Apple, asked if I was a New Yorker.
Okay. My weirdar was raised a tad, but his demeanor told me it was okay to engage.
Why, yes. Feeling a bit like one of the chosen people (which, in fact, I am), I acknowledged that I was…a New Yorker, that is.
If I just got off the subway (there was an entrance a few feet from where we were standing) and I want to go to the Met (I understood museum not opera), is this where I get the bus?
He was indeed in the right place and I reassured him, adding that he would get off after going through the park. Giving him the benefit of my infinite wisdom.
He already knew that, he said, his own ego not in hiding.
I returned to my thoughts and then took out my little notebook to write this for a new post.
Excuse me, just one last question, he interjected.
I smiled. It doesn’t have to be your last question. I am nothing if not magnanimous.
(Note to self: write this so YOU can read it at another time. Handwriting deteriorates with age. Remember how it is to try to interpret those random chicken scratches?)
We then entered into what is inevitably an esoteric conversation about the vicissitudes of public transportation.
(Another digression: Had anyone ever heard the word “vicissitudes” before Freud used it? I hadn’t. Yes, this is a bit of inside baseball.)
I let him know that he would have a free transfer from the subway to the bus. He knew that it would expire in an hour. (News to me!) He wondered if the metrocard itself expired. I assured him it wouldn’t. (Now, I have to look into that. I think I know everything and I certainly wasn’t going to admit that this New Yorker was less than well-informed. But I’d better find out.)
Yet another ride from Hell
Bus driver stops short. People almost go flying. New Yorkers are land surfers. Amazing that no one fell. My cell phone hit me in the nose, however. So, I’m pissed.
Now we’re in some kind of holding pattern. Choppy driving continues. I’d like to give the driver a parting smack on the head. Only in fantasy. Repeat: Only in fantasy. The “I could have walked there faster” level of irritation has set in. Sandwiched between what the fuck?s.
Balls of NY
Crossing the street, even a busy Avenue, with the light or against it, I will direct traffic. No, I command. Don’t run me over. Don’t go there. Stop. Wait. Okay, go. All New Yorkers do this. It’s our birthright.
The boy at the next table
I met that dear friend for lunch at an Upper East Side venue. It had been a long time, so we had to catch up on EVERYTHING. Topics ranged across the spectrum, from work to family to relationships and so on.
As is inevitable, some of what we shared was either pretty dark or somewhat racy in nature. It wasn’t until an hour into our meeting that I notice a boy at the adjacent table. He was sitting with his parents. He was about ten years old and avidly listening to our conversation. The parents were shedding bands of annoyance in our direction.
As my friend said, when I mentioned how unhappy these people were with their boy being privy to discussions of shall we call them romantic peccadillos, and of bad relatives and their shortcomings whom we each reviled with long-winded glee, parents have to think about where they choose to take their children. And, I added, speaking the mantra which provides an explanation for anything, anytime: this is New York!