Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Playground

As a 26-year-old woman living in Manhattan, I have zero tolerance for couples who exhibit very private affections in very public places. Although I try to look elsewhere, these amorous displays are hard to avoid. Everywhere I go, people are fondling each other as if the entire city were a cheap motel room.
Nicole Ferraro on "Public Smooching".

You've gotta love 'em. New Yorkers, that is. Or so I was thinking when I was travelling cross town on a bus last week, watching my fellow passengers who were in various states of disarray.

There was the girl with her boots only half laced up. A dazed look on her face. Not yet fully awake. There was the young man, dressed in a suit, his hair uncombed, still damp from the shower. Opposite me sat a woman with eating an everthing bagel, plugged in to her iPod and answering an email on her Blackberry.

Apartments are so small here, that New Yorkers view the world outside as an extension of their homes. Looking at the people on the bus, in various states of undress was like watching family members wandering into the lounge-room or kitchen early in the morning getting ready to start the day.

A few blocks on. The boots were laced up and tied, the young man's hair was dried and combed, and the iPod woman had finished her breakfast.

Me, I wasn't going to work. I was on my way to the orthodontist. We have a symbiotic relationship. He wants a world trip and I want my teeth not to fall out. It works out well.

A few hours later and considerably poorer, I make my way to work. Walking to the bus stop, there's a family in front of me. A mother, a grandmother and a two year old in a stroller. Three New Yorkers. I knew they were New Yorkers because of the way they were talking. New Yorkers LOVE to talk but there's a protocol. We take turns. It's the talking that matters, not the listening. Who cares who's listening anyway? "Blah blah blah," says one New Yorker, while the other waits patiently for her turn. "Blah blah blah" and so on goes. On. And on and on.

The baby New Yorker in the stroller was trying to talk at the same time as his grandmother. She was screaming, "It's MY turn. It's MY turn Daniel! MY turn, NOT yours." But little Daniel was not fully socialized into the ways of New York. He was only half way there. He KNEW that talking was important but he didn't understand about turns. He insisted of going over his allotted talk time. It was a duel of the talkers.

New Yorkers don't modify their conversations when they are out in public. Manhattan is their playground. There are no boundaries.

A hundred years ago when I was a smoker I remember sitting down on some steps to light up. Two people were sitting near me. They were wearing roller skates. The girl had on an evening dress full of sequins and glitter was in her hair. The guy was in a tux. They were discussing their relationship as if they were alone in some private place.

I listened to stuff about their sex life, her inner child and his need for acknowledgement. They each had their talking turns. Then the points made, they skated off into the sunset.

Writing in the New York Times' "Complaint Box" Nicole Ferraro commented recently - "At a restaurant on the Lower East Side recently, I was enjoying a friend’s company when the man and woman next to us joined hands across the table. ... they leaned in for a lengthy, passionate kiss that lifted them off their chairs. We skipped dessert and decided to cap off the meal at a nearby coffee shop — only to watch another couple sit side by side in a lip lock while we sipped lattes."

She asks, " Are New Yorkers so busy that they have to do their lovemaking on the go?" It's not that, Nicole - it is that there are no boundaries separating public and private space.

Woodstock-like, life for New Yorkers is a communal thing. There's music everywhere, albeit escaping from iPods.

Manhattan - it's all one big playground.

1 comment:

Jaded NYer said...

c'mon, no one? no one has a single comment for this? Ok well, if they allowed it people would just have sex right in the street. GACK.

At least the goings on in NY are an endless source of inspiration.

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