Tuesday, December 12, 2006


To walk in New York City is to be practiced in the art of singular vision.

Because who knows what you’ll see? You might see two men yelling at each other out the windows of their matching white vans, fist shaking, threatening (Garment District). You may see a man, covered in blood, run around a corner at full speed before getting tackled by a couple of burly cops (Penn Station). Transvestites (Chelsea). Celebrities (Tribeca). You might even see a woman in a pair of overalls with nothing on underneath, exposing her mahogany nipples for mass consumption (Nolita).

If you want to get anywhere, you have to stay focused. And everyone in New York is trying to get somewhere.

The other day I was scheduled to meet someone I’d already met in a space I’d never been. I was a little early, and I stood outside the building, searching my electronic doohickey for the suite number. Suddenly, a man’s voice:

“You looking for something?”

“No!” I replied. And without looking back I dove, head first, into a neighboring coffee shop.

The man who had approached me, it came to be known, was the very same man I was scheduled to meet. Singular vision, that’s what I’m saying. But then, yesterday, I saw something.

It is rather strange that I would see it at all. Walking, as I was, on a quieter street in Soho—not quiet, mind you, quieter. This was no country road. There were no sheep or crossing guards or horse trailers. This was still New York City, Monday, midday. This was still Soho, a neighborhood teaming with tourists and models and indie film production crews. I was walking, as is my want, staring ahead, thinking about lunch. I came upon a parked taxi cab, and, despite my years of training in the art of singular vision, I let my eyes wander along the yellow body of the cab, and into the driver’s side window. That’s when I saw it.

The it to which I refer has any number of nicknames. It has been likened to a mushroom, a reptile, a rooster. There is also an assortment of Yiddish terminology from which to choose when naming it. Some people sling it. Disagreeable people may be asked to suck upon it. It is very often referred to in Greenwich Village comedy clubs. And there it was, like a good soldier standing at attention, saluting me from inside this taxi cab on Mercer Street.

I gave a little shriek when I realized what it was and increased my pace. What a way to start the week.

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