Monday, September 23, 2013

Following Strangers

On 9/22/2013, For the second Sunday in a row, my plans to visit The Bronx were derailed by beautiful weather. Again the sunny, breezy early autumn perfection coaxed me into such a state of euphoria that I couldn't bring myself to take on the sobering task of exploring the far away neighborhood. I knew that I wanted to leave Queens, though, and I was having a hard time picking a new destination, so I decided to walk to the nearest above ground multi-train station (Queensboro Plaza for me) and catch the first Manhattan/Brooklyn bound train.

I boarded an N train with no arrival point in mind. I relied on a new game that I like to play called  "Follow the Hottie". What I do is pick the most well dressed and attractive person on the train and go wherever they are going. I don't actually follow them once we're off the train. I'm not THAT creepy. I just have a theory that well dressed, attractive people are more likely to be going somewhere interesting, which means that whatever train stop they get off at might yield an interesting path for me as well. I know that there are a lot of holes in this theory, but it's just something that I do when I can't make a decision so it doesn't really matter whether or not it's true. My only condition for the game is that If they are going to either 42nd or 34th st then I have to find a new target because that's the area where I work and I never want to go there in my free time.

Today the winner (I decided this is a less threatening description than "target") was a man in his late 20s/early 30s whose dark hair was couffed to such perfection that I considered asking him about his product choices and techniques. I recently had a boy short hair cut myself which I proved to be incapable of styling, so I have a new found respect for men who "do" their hair. His pants were slim cut navy blue dress pants, which he wore with a patterned dress shirt (white with crimson, navy, and gold embroidered teeny tiny polka dots), a crimson cardigan, and gold and navy tie which appeared to be knitted. His shoes were a deep, reddish leather with slightly darker soles. Writing it out now it sounds gaudy and over thought, but everything fit perfectly and he looked fucking fabulous. He wasn't too tall or muscular, but his bone structure was model perfect and his eyes were sly and emerald. I was sitting across from him and obviously staring at him long enough to memorize his outfit (I actually took out my journal and took some notes) and he was so aloof to my presence that he either didn't notice or didn't care that I was fixated on him. People, I don't like to make assumptions because I know that personal style is not a function of one's sexuality, but I'm 80% sure that he was gay.  Either way, it's not like I was trying to date him. It wasn't about him; it was about where someone like him might be going, which turned out to be the 8th st stop near Cooper square.

Once off the train I realized that I still had no idea where I wanted to go, so I just started walking in a direction. The area where the train stops is not in the number grid so I decided NOT to take the time to orient myself directionally. It was sunny but cool and I myself was dressed to kill (I thought) and I just wanted to stomp it out around town. A note about my own fashion choices for the day:

This is a dress that I bought at Sears of all places a few years back which is navy blue with a sequined front. The dress itself is a cotton shift, but the sequins are the good kind which really gleam and sparkle under light, the best kind of light being sunlight. It casts specks of light in a 180 degree radius around me when I walk in the light and it pleases me to no end. Usually I wear it on the 4th of July or for other festive events. Today I wore it because I fuckin' felt like it. To top things off I paired it with a huge, glittery plastic necklace and a wide brimmed shimmery straw hat, and burgundy tights which matched my  burgundy wedge booties. I was conspicuous, but it felt right.

After several blocks of blinding everyone in my path, I ended up at Tompkins Square at around 12:30, when I realized that I was very hungry and might do with a bit of lunch. It was Sunday after all and there are always brunch deals to be had in that part of town. I walked over to Avenue C and up to 13th street, which is an area where I knew of a few places, but everything was packed. I kept walking until I really just needed to sit down and eat something, so I settled for a $6 sandwich at a non-descript pizzeria with some outdoor seating.

After recharging I walked over to Union Square, where I went to Whole Foods in order to use the bathroom. Usually they don't enforce the "you must be a customer" rule but today there were actual men in suits checking receipts before letting people in, so I went down to the beer section to see if I could find something suitable for an afternoon outdoor drink-and-read, which I had planned for when I got home.

The guy working in the beer section assisted me in picking something comparable to a Vermont favorite, Heady Topper, which unfortunately is never distributed to NYC. The fact that I was able to A)ask for his help to begin with and B) ask him if he was not only familiar with the beer but might be able to suggest something similar is a point of pride for me, because I often struggle with such interactions. After finally using the bathroom, I left with a 6 pack of canned IPA from North Carolina and some apples. I sat in Union Square park and contemplated my next move while I munched on an apple.

I wasn't ready to go home yet so again I just started walking, deliberately west this time. Then I headed north on 6th Avenue. I walked until the weight of the beer and apples was straining my shoulder and I could feel blisters cropping up the courage to emerge on the balls of my feet. I got on a Queens bound F train near 23rd street and rode that as close to home as I could get.

I arrived home feeling slightly sun-stroked but very content. I had a beer and half-napped in my "backyard" which is shared with the other apartments in the house and it mostly cement, but gets the job done. I am not afraid to tell you that I got absolutely no research done, which is why this post is void of any historical perspective. Next week I'm hoping for rain.