Yes, Virginia. There is a park God

19 05 2003

He seized it. It was sitting on the bench, generic viagra ampoule still crisply folded and having the appearance of being just unwrapped. It was just sitting on the bench. In the park. Red. Checked. What Doris Day would have called ‘gingham’ but what my kind would lump under the broad term ‘flanno’. A red flannelette shirt.

I did not look at him directly.

He seized it. He eyed it, viagra buy clinic sized it up, looked around to make sure the squirrels weren’t taking notes and leapt like a vulture on carrion. Strike. Iron. Hot. He was in the park. A new shirt was in the park. Un-chaperoned. And he had found it. Holding it up by the shoulders, he confirmed the size and it was go, go, go! His flamboyance of movement as he sashayed it on was irritating the corner of my eye.

But. I did not look. Not directly.

Everyone knows that looking at the homeless is like looking at the sun. To look too long is to risk blindness. Only in this case it gets you right in the cornea with blinding guilt. So. I didn’t look directly at this homeless guy. I kept reading my book. I did not make eye contact. He danced in the periphery.

He buttoned the shirt, raised his hands to the sky and trees and in a rather expansive gesture said, “Thank you, Mr Park!”

I smiled at this. I almost had to turn and see if there was a glow on the horizon or the presence of a higher being (since I look for those sorts of signs). But I kept reading my book. Eye corner at code yellow.

Mr Park. The park god. Why didn’t I think of that?

Wearing this new flanno proudly, he catwalked to the next garbage bin. As he walked past me and my downcast eyes he said something. It sounded like, “I’m a lucky homeless man.” I was surprised he said that, but then again I suppose it’s all about perspective. He was a ‘glass half full’ homeless guy. Or maybe he was being ironic? Maybe I heard incorrectly? I’ll have to check with the Noodle Life Stenographer, but who’s got time for THAT in New York City?

I was in the East Village killing time. Was finally going to see ‘Bowling for Columbine’ and had completely ballsed up the subway times. I was stupidly early. I have no concept—and in this case I would have traded a concept for a watch anyway.

Now. The burning question of the hour is (and I know it’s keeping the zzzzs from your boudoir at night), does our homegrown farm girl, Noodle, ‘fit’ in the East Village?

OR to put it another way.

Does little Pollyanna feel like plonking down in a comfy chair, pulling up an ottoman and resting the Blundstones in this particular locale? Or is she worried about tripping over pavement between Astor and St Marks Place only to find that somewhere between air and ground she’s acquired a pierced tongue and tattoo? These things can happen in New York. I think they even write about it in Lonely Planet….

So I walked along a few streets to the edge of alphabet city just getting the ‘vibe’ of the place. You know, seeing if it set my skeleton to a pleasant vibration. But then I wandered into Tompkins Square Park and that’s where I witnessed the miracle off Avenue A—the red flanno finding a home with the homeless.

Shortly after, I got distracted thinking about life. And just quietly—between you, me and steaming manholes—we all know what a waste of time and brain ohms that is for me. So I won’t bore you with THAT any further. And it still doesn’t answer the burning question about where I’m going to live. I think we’ll let that one simmer for a while anyway.

One place I could live until my teeth fell out would be Dylan’s Candy Store across from Bloomingdales on 3rd Avenue. Unfortunately it would be short-term lease because I fear my teeth would fall out within a week. And there I’d be, toothless, near-dead from hyperactivity with ugly, sugar-rushed veins bulging from my neck. Never find a husband looking like that. So maybe that’s not such a good idea for me.

Anyway, this Dylan’s Candy Store is one hell of an eye-opener.

You know how when you ride a rollercoaster they have that camera that takes your photo as you rocket down the first drop? And you know how—after you’ve hosed the vomit off your shoes and re-aligned your ribcage—you can buy a copy of that photo showing your terrified face? Well, they should have one of those cameras in this store. Ah, the expressions of gum-aching joy it would catch as each person descended the candy staircase. (And it is a candy staircase with each clear step filled with jubes, gummies and other multicolored treats.)

Take me for instance. My eyes, renowned for their nonchalance, were on lollypop stalks and my jaw had gone about twelve degrees of slack! I’d pay for that photo. Just to keep it out of the gossip pages of course.

I paused at the foot of the stairs. While taking in the scene before me my gut gurgled and stabbed at my conscience. “You’re not gonna force any of THAT crap on me are you?” it bubbulated. My nose pondered the air. My voice box seemed nonplused.

I wandered around the giant Hershey Kiss display, navigated the custom colored M&M section, paused at the impressive Pez wall, gazed at the…at the…at the… oh, I feel ill. The grin etched upon my face spoke pure stunned-mullet-amazedness. Each time I walked around a display I half expected to step on an Oompa-Loompa and have to scrape it off my boot or beat it away with a licorice strap.

I looked longingly at the party room with brightly colored furniture and a glass wall for spectators to watch the glee. I wondered briefly…do they lock the door and sugar you good? Is it only for little people?

Dylan’s is many things at once. Over the top? Yes. Beyond the realms of good taste? Yes. Too much? That’s both a yes and a firm no. Skittles. Lollipops. Walls of lollies to mix and put in a bag of your own concoction. Gummies coming out the whaazoo. Chocolates galore. Sour little jubes to put a wince in your cheek and challenge your stomach acid to a no-holds-barred duel. I tell you. This place is like no other.

Meanwhile, I’ll just sit here munching on my Australian Licorice (yes, that’s how it’s sold), and Apple Sour Straps. Dreaming of chocolate rivers, snoozberries and sugar daddies.

Toodle-Noo. Here endeth the missive.

Noodle

©Janeen McCrae 2003




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