Thursday, January 15, 2009

NYC (part III) 11/11-19: "You never got your generation’s memo that returning phone calls is so passe"

You rub the sleep from your weary eyes, for it is now Tuesday and you are alive. You take your first shower in several days. It feels nice. Showers are always more satisfying when you don’t have them as often. Being clean never felt so good. Still, you wouldn’t be up at this ungodly hour if Horowitz didn’t have to leave for work. You stop off for some bagels and smoothies before jumping on the 7 train to Bryant Park.
Today will be different. You decide to change things up and head for the NY Public Library with all your bags in tow – can’t trust friends anymore who never pick up their phones. Upon emerging from the subway, you unexpectedly happen upon a massive ice rink. There are some chairs set up, conveniently enough in a patch of inviting sunlight. You grab a seat and stare for a while at a pretty girl on skates, gliding along the ice.
An official looking man walks by and you ask him how much it costs to rent skates. $10, he says. Too much. It’s nice just watching the graceful girl in the rink. She surprises you with a double toe loop here, a double salchow there. Maybe she lands a triple, but if that’s true, what would she be doing skating in Bryant Park at 10 in the morning? You wonder if she notices your staring, whether she’s flattered, annoyed, or just indifferent. That’s when you catch a creepy looking middle-aged man taking an equal interest in you, conspicuously ogling you each time he rounds your side of the rink. Thankfully a group of schoolchildren arrive and provide a human shield. You wonder if you’ve hung these children out to dry? Is the middle-aged man a pedophile? Do you still count as a youth at 24? You are a very young looking 24, what with the boyish face and lack of aggressive facial hair. It’s good that the children are standing there to protect you from his scary glare. Another man, most likely nostalgically reliving old hockey days, speed skates by the school children several times with one de-gloved hand outstretched, high-fiving them with every repeated pass. The sun has shifted and you’re out of the limelight. It’s time to go.
The NY Public Library doesn’t open for another hour, so you make your way into the auxillary library across the street. At the back of the 3rd floor there are some desks which look mighty inviting to rest your head upon. Lord knows it was tough work watching that pretty girl dance all over the ice like some kind of imagined succubus. As your eyes start to close, you hear the sound of snoring coming from the other side of the desk divider. It seems you’re not the first to have this brilliant idea. After yesterday’s incident at Barnes and Noble with the security guard, you’re not willing to take any chances. Flipping through the latest US News issue of college rankings and surfing the internet in company with NYC’s smelliest kills enough time before it’s off to the main library.
Past the sleeping lions you tread, up the stairs – it feels like walking into the Pantheon. Once inside, the vastness is overwhelming. Where are all the books? There are loads of tour groups, vaulted ceilings, multiple levels, winding stone staircases, and secret map rooms. The featured exhibit is all about Yaddo – an exclusive community of rotating creative types (artists/writers/musicians) invited to work in peace on a sprawling estate in Saratoga Springs. Notable names include Capote, Copeland, and Philip Roth.
Normally you are unamused by museums, but after so many trips to Union Square, this provides a welcome respite. Who knew Yaddo could be so engrossing? Two hours later, you can’t any longer stand on your own two feet. Here’s hoping Horowitz left your name on the list as you wend your way back to Long Island City.
Day turns to night as your time in NYC whittles down. Mike has invited you to the Upright Citizens Brigade theatre for some improv comedy. You oblige. The theatre is intimate, maybe 120 or so people. The acts are very funny. Around the middle of the show, the MC’s suggestively remark than on any given night, you never know just who might drop by. Sure enough, as the next group takes to the stage and the lights go up, the audience erupts. You can’t figure out what’s going on. An attractive blonde sitting to your right seizes your shoulders and starts shaking you hysterically. Of the 6 performers on stage, one appears slightly out of place. He is older than the others. He is funny looking. His name is Robin Williams and he’s standing no more than twenty feet away from you. Not a bad way to spend your final night in the city, and for a meager five bucks to boot. What the hell were you thinking spending $13 on the new Bond film?
The performance lets out, Mike leaves with his girlfriend, it’s colder than ever and you have no idea where you’re sleeping. The clock inches closer to midnight. It’s too late to call anyone – anyone except for Lauren with whom you were supposed to go out earlier but failed to return your calls. You never got your generation’s memo that returning phone calls is so passe. You send some passive-aggressive text messages “Firing her as a friend.” The ploy works, though you’re not so sure it’s a ploy. She calls and an invitation is extended amidst profuse apologizing. There’s even some left over food, she says.
Fate has fared you well, and even though you haven’t managed so much as a kiss during your eight days in the world’s most epic metropolis, you never had to sleep in Central Park.

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