Thursday, February 4, 2010

New York Moments


I am browsing in Shakespeare & Co Booksellers on Broadway when a woman walks in, unkempt, dishevelled, in what appears to be slippers and a quilted bathrobe, accompanied by a fat cat. A fat black and white cat that walks at her side like a dog, no leash required. A cat so confident of its own superiority that it walks as though it, not she, were leading. I kneel and call to it and it comes to me, and as I stroke its mangy fur, the woman announces to the man behind the counter that she has ordered a script. He nods in recognition and she strides by me towards the back of the store, towards a hole in the wall where another man stands like a dispenser of drugs, the King of Special Orders. The cat turns its back on me with a lazy flick of its tail and ambles after her.


I am walking in the Village when a large metal skip dislodges itself from its stationary position on the sidewalk and rolls loudly into the street where it crashes onto its side with a thud that vibrates through the soles of my feet. In the space where the skip once was lies a homeless man, swaddled in plastic bags and cast-off knits. He struggles to draw himself up to a half-seated position, leaning back on his elbows and swivelling his head towards me as I move past.

“Hey!” He yells in my general direction, with a large toothy grin. “Smile, you’re in New York City! You gotta dream, everyone here dreams big!”


In Times Square I am walking with my face turned up towards the sky, overawed by the sheer height and size of the neon steeples surrounding me.

“Hey! You dropped your bag!”

In a flurry of confusion I am aware all at once of a man pointing behind me and the crowd pushing and tugging around me, and I stop dead in my tracks and turn rapidly but there is nothing, and when I turn back the man is laughing and handing me a pamphlet and asking me if I like stand-up comedy.

I can’t help it, I laugh, and he knows he’s got me.

“Where are you from?” he asks, and we’re off.


I sit in Starbucks off Union Square drinking percolator coffee out of a giant cardboard cup. I am deeply engrossed in my book until I hear a voice from behind me.

“I’m sorry, excuse me. Excuse me!”

I turn and he’s beautiful, moccha like my coffee with dark eyes and strong arms.

I smile. “Yes?”

“Can I ask you a question?”


“Do you sing?”

I laugh. “No. Well, that is to say, I can sing, but not well.”

He nods, and I smile again before returning to my book. But not much time passes before he is back.

“Excuse me, I’m sorry, but can I ask you another question?”

I turn, arching my brow.

“Have you ever tried singing?”


“I’m a songwriter. I’m looking for someone to sing my songs.”

A parallel life flashes before my eyes, dark smoky jazz clubs and me, reclining on a baby grand in a red silk dress while this beautiful man plays my song.

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