Reading in Parks

24 08 2009

Okay, so summer is a slow time in the city. I’ve been polling bartenders — are there usually only two people here on a Thursday night or does it pick up? — and they agree that business is down. So I moved my project outside for a bit. Yes, it kind of defeats the purpose, because what’s so eye-catching about a girl reading in the grass? Even if she were to wear a polka-dot bikini, it’s a pretty standard sight for parks in the summer. But there were two interesting results, on two separate occasions.

Interesting 1
When I got up from the bench I was reading on (I’d had enough of hearing an aged and deceptively dignified-looking man make cooing noises at passing girls) a man stopped me to ask about my electronic reader. He had a thick accent, perhaps eastern European, and asked if I my device was a Kindle. I explained that it wasn’t, but was very similar, and he nodded in slight confusion. Another man interrupted to ask him for directions, and I used that opportunity to escape further awkward interaction. I meandered up 5th Avenue, trying to decide where to get a coffee. Five blocks later, I heard a quiet voice from very close behind me — “Can I ask you to coffee?” I turn around. Lo’ and behold! Timid eastern European (who, I’ll add, must have been twenty years older than me) had followed me silently, doggedly, for several blocks. And that not even to catch my eye, but to sneak up on me from behind. Perhaps a surprise ambush had proven successful for him in the past, as the look in his eyes when I said “no, thank you” was one of wounded dejection. Fortunately he faded into the background as I continued on my way

Interesting 2
I remembered to bring sunbathing supplies to my office to take advantage of the half day. Unfortunately, I didn’t remember a blanket to lay on, and had to contend with the itchy grass that always makes me think something is crawling on me. There was much huffing and puffing as I tried to get as much of my body onto a tshirt I’d spread on the ground, while still exposing maximum pale skin to the sunlight. It was hot, and only took a half hour for me to be thoroughly disgusting and uncomfortable. I sat up, debating leaving, and a gentleman who apparently wasn’t deterred by my look of disgruntlement asked what I was reading. He was about 10 feet away, rubbing tanning oil on his already very tan back. He was attractive, in the way 40-something ex-surfers-who-still-work-out-and-see-a-lot-of-sun are attractive. He had the long, floppy California hair, and the California smoker voice. We chatted for twenty minutes, then did that uncomfortable adjustment dance where we didn’t want to seem like we were cutting off the conversation, but were kind of done talking. He offered to share his paper with me, I thanked him but returned to my book, facing the opposite direction. When I finally gave up on the heat and folded up to leave, we did a casual salute and went our merry ways. I think our age difference became apparent during the conversation (as happens when one, me, talks about how cheap beer is at Habana Outpost), and that was enough to prevent any attempts at exchanging information. I didn’t even catch his name.

We’ll return to the bars when September hits, and hope to have more to report then.

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One response

25 08 2009
Nicole

Beware of reading in Bryant Park, there’s a creep in a long coat (yes, even in summer) who likes to approach girls and offer them free foot rubs. I declined one last summer only to have him latch on to them (they were propped on a chair) anyway. For several moments. Until I slowly, in a state of astoundment, pulled them away and tucked them beneath me. (Ok to be honest I was more baffled by him than disgusted.) I saw him approaching other girls on maybe 3 other occasions. Anyway!

Good luck.

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