He made his way towards the subway doors prematurely; we were still stuck somewhere between 6th and 8th Avenue, moving quickly past concrete and pipelines. I watched him from behind as he braced himself for an event that was not yet known until it was. A pink, foamy puddle quickly formed at his feet as he held his stomach, adding to it just one more time before taking his place at the door, standing upright and casual, his legs crossed like John Wayne at a watering hole. We finally stopped, the doors opened, and he got off, leaving pieces of himself behind…literally.
“SUDDENLY! SUDDENLY!” he booms from behind our table at the bar. I turn in time to see a man in a tangerine Polo shirt and a sensible haircut lunge in slow motion towards another man in all black. Mr. Tangerine looks not unlike a client of mine I once had: a kindly family man with a wife, two children, and reading glasses. “SUDDEENNLLYYY!” comes the roar again and they move towards each other with anything but what “suddenly” might imply. A taller man has somehow found his way into this strange argument and all three of them fall to the floor in dense and cautious thuds. One after another, like fat, lethargic dominos.
I walk through the park, my headphones lodged deep into my ears in a way that probably causes hearing damage. The song moves my feet with a rapid pace, taking me to a dinner I am already over an hour late for. My friend waited for me; he is French and possesses a repertoire of manners and niceties generally lost on Americans, especially someone originally from Los Angeles. “Excuse me,” he says over my music. I give a wave that says, Yeah, I’ve seen you but this is New York and why the hell would I pull over and actually talk to you. “Excuse me.” He waves me down, but his wave is something more akin to what someone does when alerting another person that their gas tank lid has been left open.
“Hey you!” comes with a smile through teeth I am unfamiliar with. “I love your strut! Your energy! Where are you going?”
I am confused that I have been conned into this social participation with a stranger, no matter now nice this person is. I laugh and try to shake off the conversation again, taking steps towards the direction I was heading and moving to put my headphones back in. Each time I make to leave, he says something else about what a great connection we have and his smiles get tighter and stranger and I am finally able to back away after four stolen minutes. “Have a good night,” I yell. I leave him firmly convinced that The Secret or any other positivity Jedi mind tricks are bullshit: no amount of buoyant enthusiasm was ever going to get me to connect with this person and his briefcase in the middle of Union Square at 10 in the evening.