Friday, March 10, 2006

This Weather

Back about a million years ago as the crow flies, two lived as cheaply as one in an L-shaped one-bedroom Brooklyn hovel in what the real-estate weasels were already beginning to call "South Park Slope" but that devotées of Hubert Selby will correctly identify as Red Hook.

Too poor to be fashionable, too unfashionable to be much of a catch for parties, but childless and free, we took our leisure on long walks through New York's neighborhoods. Some of my most treasured memories are of holding hands as we traipsed together through Riverside Park, The Cloisters, Chinatown, SoHo, the East Village -- aimlessly wandering just to see what was around the next corner. Any weather, any season, any emotional state. Name me a neighborhood, and I'll give you a rundown.

Washington Heights?

July, way too hot, hung over, Wonder Woman was homesick, magnificent Puerto Rican pickup band drummed endlessly in Morningside Park, restored my faith in the goodness of humankind.

Greenwood Cemetary?

Crisp late fall, leaves crackled underfoot as we marveled at the fact that we couldn't remember the last time we'd touched a tree.

We had friends, of course, and often they would come with us on our walks. One beautiful, velvety spring day very much like the one we had today, we were walking down Eighth Avenue with our particular pal Paul Quinn. As we ambled loose-limbed, we felt mildly euphoric as benevolent winds kissed us through cotton clothing in the spring sunshine. At that point at which Bleecker Street angles off Eighth Avenue toward the heart of the Village, a fellow roughly our own age came into view, walking toward us.

He was striding with some purpose, but not without his own kind of mindfulness. As we came within speaking distance, I could see that he was quite aware of our presence on this quiet city Sunday. I will never know which one of us set him thinking -- or perhaps it was a combination of two of us, or all three; as I say, I'll never know -- but as he passed us he exclaimed, in full voice, to the whole world in general:

"God, this weather makes me so horny!"

I don't know whether he was aware of the three guffawing, teary-eyed dollops of Jell-o he left rolling around behind him on the West Village sidewalk as he made his libidinous way up Eighth, strewing his carnality to the four winds, an erotic Johnny Appleseed spreading his message of libertinage to all he surveyed -- but rolling, side-holding dollops did he leave.

He can't possibly have known at the time, but he created a deathless inside joke that gets a rise even now, more than twenty years on. Even this morning, an unspeakably beautiful blue-skied cupcake of a morning, a warm-breezed, sap-rising, songbird-returning, bud-opening femme fatale of a morning, after the kids have gotten on the schoolbus and there's no particularly pressing thing that requires our attention...

"God, doesn't this weather just make you --"



Akatabi said...

Man, I am picturing this cat wearing an overcoat and Commander Schmuck anti-Puerto Rican music earflap cap and carrying a satchel and Sabrett hot dog cart umbrella while directing the output of a portable personal fan up into his beard.

H. Rumbold, Master Barber
Caveat emptor. I don't have any knowledge of the Prof I just linkwhored, but he seems to be the kind Crazy Davey Horowitz wants to put on his little list, and that's all right with me. Buy the illustrated edition.

Ben said...

Hate to quibble, Neddie, but Morningside Park is about four miles from Fort Washington, and in either park, the drummers would probably be Dominican, not Puerto Rican.

Still, though, it's a hell of a post.

Odd bit of music trivia 'bout Morningside Park: the photo on the cover of the Who's "The Kids Are Alright" was taken there, which is funny to me, because for some reason that photo always struck me as quintessentially British. Maybe 'cause of the flag.