Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Down on the corner 

We were out on the street again. Festivities were at full tilt inside. There were writers hungry for attention, men in suits looking confused, and girls looking for a place to throw their panties. It was time for a break.

Someone handed me a cigarette. Down on the corner, there was a couple taking their frustrations out on each other.

She wore sensible shoes and a longish skirt that shortened her. He wore a generic man costume and her tote bag on his shoulder.

They were the kind of couple that has public street fights that aren’t brought on by alcohol and jealousy. They had the look of cat owners.

It was hard to gauge the severity of this fight. Onlookers took bets.

She was pouting, reprimanding, and generally acting as if he had screwed up. He probably had screwed up. But the tirade was beginning to border on abuse. We quietly rooted for the man to slap her, but he refrained.

I hoped that he would scream back, approach her a bit menacingly, and sweep her up in a kiss. That didn’t happen.

The bartender was sure the man would walk off soon. We pointed out the tote bag. He recalculated his prognosis. It didn’t look good.

And then, the man stalked off, a glimpse of freedom within his grasp. Our spirits were lifted, but quickly dashed when the woman put up no protest. He took a few non-committal steps before lowering his head and returning for more of the same.

Leaning against a building, he laid the sensible tote bag on the ground with a heavy sigh.

She got into the passenger seat of a parked car and slammed the door. He followed around with her tote bag in tow. Or maybe it was his tote bag. It could have been his tote bag.

They pulled away from the corner and things started to look brighter. Moments like this were designed to make people who spend too much time in bars feel better about themselves. Inside it was the opposite.

As their car disappeared around a corner in all its taupe, MT hobbled out of the party with an unhappy man in his wake.

“I hate book parties.”

The open bar appeared to be shuttered.

“Why does this guy have to rub his success in everyone’s face? So you got a bunch of money to write a book everyone will pretend to read. Who cares?...”

Different unhappy men had given this speech before.

“Oi… whiskey?”

“…I’m done feeling sorry for myself, though. I shouldn’t envy that guy. He should envy me. You can’t buy happiness — he’ll be miserable in three months.”

There was a cab coming toward us and a life devoid of taupe to be had if we wanted it. The night still held promise. Numbers were exchanged. Cabs were shared. People fell onto the streets of Chinatown. Tomorrow there would be regrets, but that was the thing about tomorrow. It wasn’t here yet.

“…Blah blah blah… bankers blah blah over privileged… blah Alex P. Keaton.. blah blah … white men...”

This was getting tedious: “Oh stop. You sound like poor people.”

The car winked at us and we got in. As we sped away from the curb, the lights of the bridge beamed down and the colors blurred on West Broadway.

— Miss Anna