Inward, inward. The older I get, the more I turn inward.
Sitting in Zagara’s outdoor cafe on Sunday, traffic is light on 7th Avenue and sighing by on gibbering rubber. Buses cough and wheeze and rumble away like blue elephants. Some say “The Museum of Sex.” Helicopters thump overhead; then the Ferry bus roars them away.
White bread with a soft center soaks up rich yellow olive oil in a saucer. A cold white wine adds an acid touch and slows the city to a crawl.
The tip of the Empire State Building is a needle stuck into the blue arm of the sky. A light scent of tar enhances the cold Chardonnay.
People with plastic bags of lettuce and chips walk by. Stomachs pompously precede T-shirts and unabashed shorts on obese and thin humans alike. Why so many plastic bags?
A black family in striped shirts of many colors disgorges from the restaurant in order of birth. Selfies are taken as people rotate from front to back. They laugh. I drink and then look up: they are magically gone as if I invented them.
A recorded voice in the subway oozes its incoherent admonishments up through the grate by the curb. Tiny dogs–some in purple or pink clothing–trot beside their owners like animated dolls on blurred legs.
Whatever happened to fashion in the Fashion Capital? White gloves and hats are gone. So many T-shirts, baggy shorts, ugly white legs. So many dead-eyed people. Tall, thin, short, fat; gray slicked-back hair; bald; stringy blonde; black straight hair; frizzy dreadlocks. The same deadness in all their eyes, although phones are oddly absent. Glaring. Staring.
They march and march, these T-shirted ants, most heading south, a few heading north. They erupt from the 23rd Street subways and trickle in a small stream toward the Village. Someone yells and a few turn toward the sound, but no one’s there. A man walks past repeatedly shouting, “No! No!” He looks young and normal, but something’s shorted out in his brain.
Two black men, and a black woman in a white dress, arrive. They peer through the door and I say, “The food’s fantastic here! Trust me!” They do. They settle at a table opposite me, although the men crave the cold air conditioning inside. The woman prevails, urged on by me. Her white wine arrives; she salutes me with it.
Double decker tour buses roll past. They stare at us as if we were in the aquarium–not them. As if we were a separate species.
In this Sicilian restaurant there is an Irish busboy. I know when he’s serving the other table, as I smell his cologne. It’s too sweet. Maybe he’s not Irish.
It’s late afternoon on Fathers’ Day in New York City.