Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Twenty-Second Date

Tonight, I've got couples on the brain. My own past, my friend's futures, life today has seem punctuated by couples and relationships and twosomes. This summer has been one of such change in the makeup of my companion's singledom. Babies have been born and created, marriages proposed and accepted, people move to and move from. And here lies L.A., always floating and turning in space, like a tiny ballerina in a black tutu in some New York City snowglobe.

Part of what I've enjoyed about New York this summer has been the idea of venturing to all these spots,all these little enclaves of life, as part of a couple. Life somehow seems more excited and recognized when you can point out to someone else, "oh that, right there! see that?!" All my dates have bruised upper arms from my constant flailing about at the wonders of life, getting excited over the placement of a toothpick, the shine from a packet of butter, or even the way a key is able to open a lock.

Thus, you can imagine in part my disappointment when I found myself without a partner to share the joy of opening lock number twenty-two as karma had finally kicked me in the butt and added all those late minutes I've blogged about and pasted them onto a series of subway mishaps making date number 22, who shall henceforth be known as "Don", approximately one hour late to our date and thirty minutes beyond the closing time of PostNet box number 136 in the Bronx.

The Time: Friday, September 3rd, 7 32pm
The Guy: "Don" who I was introduced to at a friend's party the week prior
The Place:  557 Grand Concourse, suite 3, Da Bronx
What Creative Time Says:  Check the mail, it's your mailing address too.

So, here I was, all 5'2" exploring the Bronx with nothing but a pair of flip flops and a few case files. Don let me know he'd be running late, (blast the MTA and their unlimited metrocard inflations!) so I decided that, rather than risk it, I'd open this puppy up before the clock struck eight. After wrongly wandering into the actual post office across the street, looking ever regal in its always pip-pip-cheerio-fashion, the attendant kindly pointed me across the street to a glowing neon red sign reading "Postnet". Well, that makes sense.

I have to say that, as I crossed the street, I wanted to linger in between the yellow painted lines to look at the sunset superimposed upon all that neon. The reflections of pink and orange in the shining billboards and twinkling lights of McDonalds and car donation ads, well, it was actually kind of beautiful, like its own uptown tribute to dusk. My photos are at the end of this post.

But time was ticking down and a post office box needed to be open. Once inside, the only one in the store, I cautiously opened the small box and rushing out like the bread out of I Love Lucy's oven exploded scraps of all sizes and shapes of letters from around New York. Notes on receipts and matchboxes, postcards and  trinkets, folded up cranes and even bubble gum wrappers, this little capsule had it all, the hearts and the minds of hundreds of new yorkers with a key.

While sitting and going through the notes, looking, I am sure, forlorn in my little corner of the Bronx, one of the three workers at the store came up to me and we got to chatting about life and love in NY. C.J., the charmer of the crew, said he'd be my date until the real one showed up (though, having cars, they could not believe a subway could actually run so late, believe me fellas, it has and it did and it will again!) and we celebrated someones birthday surreptitiously behind the counter as they closed up shop.

Finally, as  I watched the new light show the advertisements of the way upper east side were putting on, I saw Don waving from across the street. As we couldn't find a nearby place to eat (my coworker who lives up there started laughing when I asked if she could recommend anything in the area) we took C.J.'s suggestion and hopped on to the two train to Harlem and the smothered goodness found in a little shop known as Amy Ruth's. 

Pulling up to the spare, slightly yellowed window overlooking a dining room laden with full looking customers. I watched waiters pull out plate after plate of fried chicken and mac and cheese, smothered pork chops and collared greens. My mouth watered with anticipation and I couldn't even stop to photograph the most slammin 70's style barbershop in the universe across the street.

So Don and I headed inside and ordered everything that we thought would possibly fit in our bellies, meaning waffles, fried chicken, collard greens, catfish, cheesy grits and fried okra. And I'll be damned if I didn't wish for awhile that my stomach could have expanded right there on the spot in a freaky pit-stop surgery the exact opposite of gastric bypass. Literally, I think I used about six packets of butter and ate enough fried pieces to wrap myself up in the flaky crusts but it's all good.  Nothing a quick walk around central park, ghostly midnight hour and all, and jamming briefly, (ok maybe mostly inside our heads) with the boomboxes and barrel tops lining our way through Harlem.

For those of you who haven't walked through this particular area, let me tell you that it, perhaps more than any other neighborhood in NYC, is just alive. With people and languages, shouts and music, kids on mountain bikes and older couples walking hand in cane-holding hand. The beat of this party of the city is just always thumping, even if it's at lower decibels, something just moves you, body mind and soul when you're there. It's an incredible place to walk through at night. The haunting lanterns of an empty central park topped off the evening quite picturesquely, like globe lit breadcrumbs guiding our way to the lumbering subway that would bring us home.

I remembered that C.J., earlier in the evening, had noted to me that not a lot of people actually came and chatted with the people working in the store. I wondered if this had to do with the nature of the project, with the focus on the site rather than the people, your own key gives you your own access and apart from the sites with tours, you don't really need to rely on anyone else. It could also, however, be due to the inherent nature of groups and partners and, well, relationships. When you're in one, or with one, may it be two friends or a date or a lifelong partner, you don't necessarily look for those other interactions quite so much. Sometimes I even feel this way with my friends in new (or old) partnerships, that our friendship somehow becomes not quite so shiny once they have that love in their life. I'm not sure if it's that they need a friend less, or they are just so into the admiration and excitement of love, but it definitely is there and I often feel it.

The date was fun with Don but, I've got to say, it was kind of nice having the first bit to myself, so my eyes were wide open to see everything possible around me.  And the fried chicken and waffles tasted just as yummy as I sat and ate them alone on my stoop the next morning,

But, you know, if that cute guy who just walked his dog by  as I sit writing this on my stoop happens to come back and ask me out to dinner in the village, who would I be to turn him down?

Enjoying it, either way,



  1. What an interesting end to the summer! I'm surprised people in other cities haven't copied this idea, or a guy try the same thing. Very well done!

  2. I agree! I think you'll be starting a trend here!