21 April 2007: It's the end of a glorious afternoon in Manhattan, which for the most part I enjoyed to the hilt. After breakfast at the coffee shop across the street, I fiddled around for a while in a more or less domestic manner. Fossil Darling called from the barber shop that we both patronize. He had some things to drop off, and I told him to come on up. After a quick visit with Kathleen, he headed homeward, and I accompanied him. I was on my way to lunch at a restaurant in Hell's Kitchen. I graciously allowed Fossil D to pay the fare. "Please don't feel you owe me anything for the taxi," he boomed as we parted. "You're sure," I didn't ask.
Then I walked down Ninth Avenue to 39th Street. I saw bits and pieces of things, mostly distant buildings and the overhead ramp that runs off from the Port Authority bus station. I was having one of those "I'm in New York" moments. Since I'm always in New York, this sensation may seem rather odd. But every now and then, when I'm in a relatively strange part of town at strange time of day on a strange day of the week - I hardly ever leave the apartment, much less Yorkville, on weekends, except to go to Carnegie Hall - I sometimes feel like an out-of-towner, in the city just for the day. Walking down Ninth Avenue before one o'clock on a Saturday afternoon in the gorgeous spring sunshine was one of those moments.
Also, I was going to meet someone for the first time, a fellow blogger. It is not my practice to identify bloggers whom I've just met, but I will say that the blog of the gentleman with whom I had lunch appears on my Affinities list. He was both charming and very cool. We talked largely about blogging, and I'm afraid that I was inquisitive, but he agreed with me that blogs are great for meeting sympathetic people. We sat outdoors, in the full sunshine, with no sun block (on my part, at least); thank heaven I'd thought to wear my Fasolt & Fafner hat. I'm waiting for my left arm to start peeling.
Lunch finished, my friend was on his way to the East Village, so I walked across town with him. I was thinking vaguely of taking the subway home, but at Madison Avenue I remembered that Kathleen had told me at breakfast that "one of these days" I had to stop in at Madora/George Michael, where her hair is washed and dried and done up in a bun every week. After a quick call, I said goodbye to my companion and headed ten blocks uptown, where I had to place another call, because you have to know where to look to see the shop's sign. Once I was upstairs, it was all "I've heard so much about you," as indeed we all had. Kathleen has been going to George Michael since before the memory of man runneth to the contrary. The ladies were all very happy with me because I like Kathleen's long hair and don't want her to color it.
As it happened, Kathleen's hair was dry enough to comb out, and within a few minutes she and I were walking further up Madison. "How was lunch?" she asked. "Very nice, but he says I'm intellectual," I complained, even though I'd been assured that this judgment was meant to be a compliment. Kathleen emitted a heavy, impatient sigh. In her eyes, apparently, I can no more argue that I'm not "intellectual" than I can claim to be short. Someone else recently wrote, in a thank-you note, "I always feel uneducated in your company." This sort of comment always terrifies me, because I wonder if it's going to have the same implications as another compliment that I used to receive when I gave a lot of dinner parties: "Oh, I could never have you to dinner at my house. I don't cook nearly well enough." Gee, thanks. But Kathleen wants me to get over it. "Intellectual" is to be construed as complimentary.
After looking at the huge Spider Man display in the Sony Building (né AT&T), we crossed the street to Kathleen's office, where she planned to put in a couple of hours. Sitting in one of her chairs was a tote bag full of birthday loot. Since I was planning to go home in a cab, I was happy to take it with me. Until I got to First Avenue, that is.
There were no empty taxis on Madison Avenue, so I - did something stupid. I walked up to 59th Street and turned right. I got a taxi immediately, but I was unaware that a) left turns onto Park Avenue are prohibited and b) Queensborough Bridge traffic makes it almost impossible to make left turns on either Third Avenue or First. I was so exasperated at First Avenue that I paid the shocking fare and got out to walk. It was simply too maddening to sit in the traffic, thinking murderous thoughts about the driver, who ought to have foreseen the problem and done something creative about it. I wasn't able flag another taxi until I reached 63rd Street. The fare from there to home was a dollar and change less than my crosstown death march.
If you hear about a terrorist threat to blow up the Queensborough Bridge unless tolls are imposed on its traffic, don't look at me.
Copyright (c) 2007 Pourover Press