Tuesday, February 4, 2014

My stories run up and bite me on the leg - I respond by writing down everything that goes on during the bite. When I finish, the idea lets go and runs off. (Ray Bradbury)

New York City makes you feel differently than any place in the world! Things happen there!  People you'd never, ever expect to meet cross your path! As they used to say... "It's a happenin' place!"

Once when I was in The City, I was standing at a corner, waiting for the light to change so I could cross the street. A guy ran up to me and grabbed my purse! The strap was draped over my shoulder, and I grabbed that strap and hung on. He pulled and I pulled. That stap would have snapped if I wasn't good leather! He grunted and pulled and I grunted back. Then he looked over my shoulder, suddenly dropped the strap, and ran. I looked over my shoulder, and there was the back of a policeman standing about six feet away from me! He never saw a thing!

NYC Moral: YELL, ya fool! YELL when something happens!
Well, we "Nutmeggers" are polite!  We don't yell, and we don't say "Fool!"
Well, then, get mugged, FOOL!

Another time I was walking down 45th Street where some of the playhouses are/were. It was sort of eerily quiet... no traffic except a car or two. At the beginning of the block I saw a man who I will never, ever forget. He was only 1/2 a man... It wasn't that he had no legs... he had nothing below his waist! He was on a board with roller skate wheels on all four undersides, and he had a piece of wood in each hand to roll himself along the sidewalk. I fished out some bit of money and put it into his cup with the dirty sign attached, and I kept walking.

I thought, though, that I coudn't have seen what I saw... If he had nothing below his waist, where were his intestines? How could he eliminate? If he was balanced on a board with skates, how could he cross the streets? The curbs were high, and the traffic was impatient and taller than he was...  How...

And then I heard a slow "click...click...click..." behind me, and I knew he was following me.There was no one else on the street for blocks ahead as far as I could see. The clicks were slow and methodical and sounded like an episode from the "Twilght Zone."  I walked a little faster.

Then I heard the clicks turn into "clickety-click, clickety-click, clickety-click." HE was going faster, faster. I was scared. I walked faster, and the clickety-clicks sped up, too. He was chasing me...

I'm not ashamed to tell you that I started to run down that part of 45th Street. The sounds behind me became "clickclickclickclickclick," and there was no doubt any more... He WAS chasing me, and it WAS the "Twilight Zone!"

I reached the curb and raced across the street, ignoring whether there were cars or not...There was a monster behind me and no witnesses to see what might happen and no cop's back, either...

When I jumped up on the next curb and stopped, I looked behind me. There he was, just like I thought, shooting eye-darts at me from his curb because he couldn't navigate the drop to the street. 

What was that all about? What did he want? Why was I so scared?  Dunno...

NYC has something in its air that gives you energy! It gives you rhythm and timing and even confidence. This sounds foolish as I reread it, but it's so! I was the shyest creature on earth in those days, but I had on a new, stylish, yellow raincoat, and I felt goooood!  I was walking to my Dad's office to meet him before we took the commuter train home. Dad had taken me to Danny's Hideaway for lunch that day, and the bartender had shown me a card trick and winked at me. I'd revelled in the work at the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney, and it just doesn't get better than that. WOW!

As I strode down the avenue feelin' gooood, a little rat-like man came running up to me saying, "You're his model! YOU are the model for (insert name, because I don't remember who he said...)!  I need to talk to him! Please, please tell him that I need to talk to him! It's urgent! PLEASE!"

And I turned and said, not missing a stride, "Leave me alone! He doesn't want to see you! Go away!"

Where did get THAT? I was a shy girl from Stamford, Connecticut, attending the University of Nebraska where I was facing a new semester to teach me how to teach students. I had put off taking the required "speech class for teachers" because I was so shy. Instead, I was signed up for the speech class at the Ag campus because I figured it wouldn't be so embarrassing  for me to speak in front of farmer-wanna-be's (no offense to farmer-people, but they ARE a rather silent bunch).

"But you, you, you don't understand! This is IMPORTANT and YOU can get to him! Please, please, please! Talk to him for me... Please! You're his model..."

I turned around , pulled myself up even taller, and said, "He doesn't like you! Do you hear me? HE DOESN'T WANT YOU TO BOTHER HIM! NOW GO AWAY BEFORE I CALL A POLICEMAN!"

I understood for those few minutes the art of acting! You just believe you ARE who you're not! It was easy...

But cruel of me? Horribly cruel! Who knows what he was talking about? It was horrible of me to do this, to say those things, to hurt someone with lies like that! I'm ashamed and still a little haunted by what my words might have done to someone I'd never seen before or since. ...all for my junvenile pride and blasted ego at being mistaken for a "model!"

When I saw my Dad, he said, "Did you have a nice day?" and I lied, "Yeah." And on the way home on the train, I hoped I would never, ever again, be what my Irish Granddad used to call me when I was a little, little girl, "Terrible Terry Annie!" 

No comments:

Post a Comment