I’m not going to say who the father is.
That is a completely random (yet hopefully, deep) way of starting my little story about New York.
It actually begins with my being born there a long time ago. I just went there to be born. New York rents were probably prohibitive way back then too, but my peeps already had a crib waiting for me in Somerville, New Jersey.
I’ve been in the city a lot lately, as the result of attending a six-week comedy class, culminating in a show yesterday. I think I made a fair showing. Not great, not horrible. The video will be mailed to me in about a week and I’ll make every effort to get that on-line.
Anyway, leaving the city last night from Grand Central Terminal, I stopped at a kiosk in the food concourse to get some water. A large, blond, bespectacled woman (who for some reason calls to mind the image of a lumbering polar bear) was in front of me in line, got her stuff, and walked off. I moved up to the counter and saw someone had just left behind a large, half-drunk bottle of Snapple (which probably cost like $17.50…..remember, this was New York). The worker at the register had a friendly Jamaican countenance; her scrappy little testosterone-saturated boss was a few steps to her side, engaging in a strange combination of pacing in place and preening. When Itty-bitty-bossy noticed a customer had left the Snapple bottle behind, and that I had noticed he noticed, he made a pathetically transparent attempt to look like he was going to chase down the customer and return the bottle. But he ended his charade after literally one second; that’s how half-hearted his attempt was. As I paid for my own water, I said to Jamaica-lady, looking at her boss, “He did a pretty shitty job trying to get that Snapple bottle back to its owner.” She smiled, guardedly. But I could see that she liked me calling her boss on his own shit, loudly, right there in front of her. He gave me a dagger look that said something I should not put words to. But it was at that moment that I had a hare-brained idea to be the chivalrous out-of-towner who could prove to jaded New Yorkers why it’s still important, and gratifying, to perform random acts of kindness. I swiftly grabbed the Snapple, and ran it over to the Polar Bear, who was already ascending the steps to the main concourse of the train terminal. As I tried to hand her the bottle, she turned to me, looked at me like I was offering her insecticide, and she said, “Um, that’s not mine.”
As I slunk back to the kiosk to return the bottle, Little boss-man looked up and away, his forehead grazing the counter-top in doing so. But Jamaica-lady seemed amused when I put down the bottle, thought for a second, pointed down at Thumbelina-boss, and said, “Well, he still did a shitty job.”
And that, Dear Readers, is a classic New York story.