Walking home tonight from one end of Williamsburg to another, I noticed, once again, that I was the only person not wearing headphones or buried in a phone. It was as if I’d been granted super powers: Unwired, unplugged, I was fully tuned into my physical environs–the only one in possession of such seemingly rudimentary senses as seeing and hearing. Relatively speaking, I really was a superhero. In such instances, I fantasize about stealing wallets, tripping people as they unseeingly stumble by, saying absolutely damning things (that no one will hear). I don’t, of course, but I do relish the power conferred to me simply because I’m the only one not blocking out the world at large.
I guess I’ve hit my fill of something, whether it’s the manic pixie paradigm or the malingering winter I’m not sure, but this broad has had it. Coming up from the subway platform at 14th street and 8th Avenue, we were all held up by a 20something waif decked out in gold slippers, a puff of fake white fur, and a tiny blond haircut who was leafing through a children’s library book as she glacially tiptoed up the stairs. She was so caught in a reverie of herself that she didn’t hear everyone’s “excuse me, excuse me” as they attempted to pass her. Finally, I tapped her on the shoulder: “You ain’t that cute, honey,” I said. “Get cracking.” Her face contorted. “F–k you,” she spat out. “That ain’t cute either,” said another lady my age, climbing by her.
What a day! After my Blue Detective debacle of a morning, I waltzed into the city and saw a curious German film—The Strange Little Cat—in a New Directors/New Films press screening at the Museum of Modern Art. Afterward, still halfway in that poker-faced comedy about the life and times of a family kitchen and its pets, I wandered through the museum’s galleries of late 19th-century art, peering over people’s shoulders at Gauguins and Van Goghs and Matisses. What a way to look at such impertinent paintings, now heralded as sacrosanct. I walked down 6th Avenue to Union Square, ogling window displays of buttons and flowers and velvet trimmings, and munching from a little wax paper bag of cashews sold by a kind-faced, doleful-voiced street vendor. As I walked, I thought about how New York is like the kitchen I’d just watched: always changing, always staying the same. I thought about about how, as much as I like Brooklyn, Manhattan’s street smells—hamburgers and onions, hot dogs, pretzels, smoky and sweet nuts, quick gusts of trash and fancy flowers—trump all. And I thought about how alley cats like me—ladies of a certain age, ladies of a certain indestructibility, ladies of a certain scandalous independence—have been clicking in high heels down the city’s avenues for hundreds of years. I hope we always will.