The Not-So Perfect After Dinner Stroll...
It was winter in February and we had finished a nice dinner in the West Village, New York City. He was three years younger, a reaction to my realization that in a year and a half, I would be turning thirty.
I had lived a life thumbing my nose to all boys my own age,especially younger, and then... this sudden epiphany had hit me: Had I been missing out on a whole stock of men who had unfortunately hit this planet only months after myself? They were energetic, ready to jump on a bike back-injury-free for a weekend jaunt and sit at a beer garden just letting time roll easily by, unaware of the age when each year would feel like it should count. These boys were like a mini break from thoughts. Things could be done out of order; Drinks, movie, pool, speakeasy with friends, dinner at a tucked away burger joint at 2am.
We met when I was leaving a video editing facility late Sunday night and he was running out of work. We were the only people in the dark main floor. Once I exited the elevator, he had crept up behind me to chat and I psycho sped walked, giving myself shin splints in a sweaty panic, completely believing I was about to be shanked in Chelsea Market. But he was friendly and confidently adorable and we chatted all the way to the train station, where he gave me his business card.
One night after dinner, at a point when we had only gone out enough times to represent on my right hand, he suggested a long walk. In the light falling slippery snow, my high heeled boots tried to match his giant gait and completely threw off my sense of balance that a glass of wine swishing in my stomach did not aid.
We walked. We walked up Sixth Avenue. A place that will always summon up high school nights out on Mcdougal Street, when I was a teenager in the city. We walked through Chelsea, where I had worked at a restaurant where half the people were amazing- and a few were so eccentric and so high on drugs that the place could’ve float away by itself. We walked through Times Square, a place where I had skipped past trannie prostitutes on my way to dance class as a child. And finally, we came to that magical evergreen forest of Central Park. The land where children can strike their first home run and backpacking tourists can smoke a bowl surrounded by gossip girls tanning while that sketchy guy always tries to sell you banged up looking Poland Spring bottles out of his cooler. Everyone's backyard.
As we rounded the bend of 59th Street, my date asked, "What about a nice stroll through the park?" It was full on snowing then. There were individual snowflakes blocking my sight and his cheeks had reached a feverish red hue of outdoor merriment. I am from Manhattan, I have been told since birth not to walk through parks at night- that is a JUNIOR -STUPID-NEWBIE to New York mistake and I could hear my mom screaming from three states away "Don't you dare young lady!" But, this night I decided to reply with, "Sure!"
We bounded in. Down the road a block north of the old Plaza Hotel, the New Time Warner Center blocked the moon, but we didn’t care. We were outside. We were free.
About a hundred yards down the wintery, white path, I saw something big moving ahead, a pack of dogs on a sled? A giant snowball pushed only by the wind? No. A charging white police car soon revealed itself and pulsed through the road straight towards us.
After a slow roll, it completely blocked our path and a huge fat early forty year old officer who looked like a bad guy in “Home Alone, Lost in New York" and his younger more fit female partner emerged.
Oh how nice I thought. They want to make sure we are managing the snow okay.
“Hey how are you guys doing?" the fat guy asked us, big smile as he tottered around the front of the car.
“Good good. Beautiful night," my date answered with genuine enthusiasm.
"Can we see your licenses?"
“Sure thing.” We both innocently handed them over. Yes officer, he is an organ donor. You're welcome!
He smiled broadly at us. Made a joke to try and get his partner to laugh and we smiled back. Then he handed us two tickets.
"You know, you can’t walk in the park at this hour. Didn’t you two see the sign?"
Sign? I couldn’t have even seen my own shoes right then. A blanket had fallen from the sky and the city was covered.
"Sign? No," my date responded. His youthful joi de vivre completely in the crapper and hate for authority bubbling up.
"Well, go to the courthouse on this date. Sorry, but we have to give these to you."
And, if cops wonder why most people think they’re scum, please see this exhibit A. Aside from every movie starring some guy who's been foiling the enforcement system for years until he’s put in his place by Johnny Depp, who looks exactly like the old white guys with smug faces being escorted up government building steps on NY1 news reels, sketchy officers like this are not helping public image.
That's okay! I wanted to reply. I know you need to give us these tickets to clear space in your jacket for all the Hot Pockets you have stuffed in there #?#!?!!!
But instead I delivered a passive aggressive smile.
Our court date was for April… mid-April. This presented two problems, 1) I would have to be at court and not at my job on this day, and 2) I probably had to date this guy until the tickets were settled. This was because of the scenario I created in my head of what would happen if we broke up and then had to face each other in court:
"The defendants clearly can’t even keep a crappy cute meet relationship going for three months, they are obviously guilty!" The lawyer would scream and the gavel would slam.
My date would point a long accusatory finger at me from across the room.
"She did it!"
I would go to Sing Sing and FORGET about my writing career. Sure I’d have plenty of time at night, but I’d be too busy trying to make weapons out of hair ties and designing my next tattoo.
So, we dated. Sort of. Dated as in kept meeting, going to bars, but in his lack of ever making an effort, like in coming to a friend's Oscar party!!? Or living up to her promises that f.f.g.s (former fat guys) are the nicest people ever (do not believe the lies people) the status of our relationship was kept at a healthy flaky level.
The court date arrived. Though he kept me waiting outside a bar for twenty minutes on our second date, he is early for court. I was on time for the bar and just barely on time for court, and so had to stand in a huge long line… which really says it all people.
He found me in line.
"No biggie, they threw it out."
In saying this he cemented a fear in me that I would somehow be doing time for both of us.
I got into the room with a judge and after hearing the case of fifteen finance douchebags who were all there for public urination, I was finally called the the front of this room/fake court.
My court appointed lawyer was a nice middle aged mom looking woman, who might live in Park Slope and garden in her spare time.
She looked at my ticket and rolled her eyes at the law and her wasted legal degree.
“Do you swear to abide by the rules... etc.” I’m making this part up because I honestly stopped listening after the eye roll.
“Yes.” I remember that part.
And I was released from court and all punishment. Well not any. My punishment was outside. He soon found me at a food cart around the corner buying water.
“I have the morning off,” he smiled and swung his messenger bag through the air to land smack in the middle of his back.
“Great I don’t. I have to send out a newsletter.” He followed me to a cute sweets bar a few blocks away in Tribeca. I worked, he repeated jokes from SNL. We parted.
I wasn’t going to write about this story because we just sort of faded from each other’s lives, neither of us caring to make a next plan, dissolved like a marker drawing in the rain, and well I don't want to look like a jerk. But, when he either accidentally included me on a mass holiday email or sent me the least personal message I’ve ever received, and I emailed back, "Hey! Happy Holidays!" and received no response, I perceived that as permission to tell all.