I don’t know. When was the last time I walked through Central Park? Or, when was the last time I walked through The Museum of Natural History? Or better yet, when was the last time I went to The Hayden Planetarium? It seems like it’s been forever. I think I have a plan. This involves an escape and a childish need to skip class and beat the responsibilities of everyday life.
Then again, I was never much for school and then again, I was never much for planning trips on the days when I would skip. Perhaps my intentions and motivations were different. Or, maybe it’s safer to say that my bank account is different now and so are my means of transportation.
I think now would be different though. In fact, I think if I were to plan a day to skip town or play hooky and “Cut class,” so to speak, I can think of a few ideas that come to mind.
‘There’s a 24hr Chinese food place Downtown that I’d like to give another try. To be honest, my last attempt here was far from stellar. The food was not the best but in all fairness, I was in the middle of an anxiety attack. I swear this hit me hard.
At the time, none of this was funny to me but I look back at this moment as one of the most hysterical times of my life.
The place is crammed, which means the tables are close together. There are all different types of people who eat here. And yes, “All God’s children,” is the saying that comes to mind. Not everyone in the world is pretty but to be clear, there are times when we see people, crazy as ever, and we think to ourselves, “Wow, I can’t believe what I’m seeing.”
(Please, no judgment here. You would have thought the same thing.)
But wait. Let me give you a picture. The restaurant is located in a downtown scene. The steps outside on the sidewalk lead down to the doorway on Mott Street. The street alone has a longstanding history in New York City and so does Wo Hop, the 24hr Chinese restaurant.
The place is not large by any means. It’s not small either. It’s just crammed and bright. Their tables are arranged to pack as many people as they can. Then again, this place was designed far before Covid-19; however, if social distancing is important, this place is not one that offers social distance. But maybe that’s changed.
My last table here was in the back. I was sitting at a corner when the panic attack hit me. I am not sure if this hit me before I walked into the place.
Next, my mind went in every which way. I couldn’t calm down. I couldn’t enjoy the food. I couldn’t stop my anxiety from mounting and to make it worse, there was an oddly large woman sitting next to our table.
Her fingernails were long and yellow with nicotine stains. (All God’s children.)
She was big and tall but not obese. (All God’s children.)
She had long, dirty blonde hair and she smelled from cigarette smoke.
(All God’s children.)
Her skin was rough and the pores on her face were like deep holes. She sat across from a man who was mainly thin. My mind cannot recollect him as well as I can recall her. This woman was literally double fisting with chicken wings, feeding herself with both hands, putting the entire wing in her mouth and pulling it out with all the meat gone. There was nothing left but the little meatless chicken bones thrown down violently on the plate in front of her. I can say that she was horrifying. I can say that she was loud. I can say that I remember she was talking about a date she went on, which was a blind date with someone who she found unattractive.
I could hardly enjoy my food for reasons of my own but with her to the right of me, it was impossible to eat, relax or enjoy. I am not a small man but she would have beat me up!
To be clear, if she wanted to fight me, I’m not saying I would back down but I am saying I would have to stick and move and jab from the outside because if she hit me, it would be over. And no, I would never hit a woman nor do I ever want to have to fight another human being. Not in a million years but I suppose my humor on this is to illustrate the cartoonish qualities of my experience that day. I’ve played hooky since then but still, I need a day to play during the work week.
I love my City . . .
I think if I were to plan a trip to skip a day, I would wait for the first day of spring when it’s warm and the world has thawed. The City seems like it’s finally about to reopen. The red-breasted robins have returned and the trees are starting to show life again. Central Park would be active once more and it’d be nice to walk around and see the sights.
I could hit one of the museums. I could stop in some of the stores or find a place where they serve a nice bowl of soup. I could eat something different. I can see the tourists in New York City as if they were one of the sights to see. And for the record, they are a sight to see.
I can always tell when someone is coming in from out of town. They all have a similar expression on their face, amazed as ever, and smiling at what they see.
The world is truly amazing and there are places that come with their own beauty. My place here in my City has its own sights. And sure, not all of them are as amazing as say, The Grand Canyon, but still; my City has places that can take your breath away.
I miss my City and the way it was before the world shut down. I miss the days before Covid. And here we are, two years later and we’re still quarantining. It’s not as bad as it was. But still,
we’re still closed in some regards. Who knows when everything will open again? Who knows how long it will take to get through this pandemic? It seems the new variants multiply quicker than the news can advise. Who knows if or when we’ll be back to seeing each other without a mask on?
I don’t have the answers to these questions. But I do know that a pair of loose jeans, a pair of blue Converse sneakers, a Beastie Boys t-shirt and some warm winds, a hotdog from the carts at Columbus Circle with mustard, ketchup and sauerkraut is a good idea. So is the need to feel like a kid again, to cut class and skip out on the responsible life. Just for one day. We can go back to being adults the day after. I promise.
Maybe your outfit would be different from mine. But either way, I can meet you when the weather warms up. We can meet up at the Central Park Conservatory Garden over by the gate on 106th Street.
Remember that place?
I do . . . up in Harlem.
All God’s children. All God’s places. And of all things to eat at the Cuchifritos; (That’s a Puerto Rican restaurant for those who didn’t know.) I chose a tripe soup that had more ingredients than I bargained for. But I could give it a try again.
I need a day. Just a day.
When spring comes around.