The Brooklyn Bridge opened for business 125 years ago this weekend. I spent my early NYC years living in Brooklyn and my heart goes pat-pat-pat every time I see it. Anytime I had visitors, I would always take them on a walk across the bridge. You have to start from the Brooklyn side and walk towards Manhattan because that’s the better view. You can see all of lower Manhattan, the UN, and all the midtown skyscrapers you know by name, whether you’ve been to New York or not. Take the A train to High Street/Brooklyn Bridge, come out of the subway, cross Cadman Plaza, up a stone staircase and walk that beautiful walk. The cables look like a spider’s web and there’s nothing more elegant than the cathedral-window cutouts in the center of the stone support towers. It’s an architectural masterpiece.
One morning, many years ago, a cable snapped and came crashing down to the walkway and killed someone who was walking to work. They said that the acidity in the pigeon guano that had accumulated over the years caused the cable supports to corrode. Pigeons 1. Humans 0.
In order to avoid the 5:30 crush of humanity at Penn Station due to the holiday weekend mass exodus, I stayed in the city late on Friday. I met H. for dinner. We went to St. Andrews. It’s on 44th St. and it’s the only Scottish restaurant in the city (which is hard to believe, but true). I passed on the haggis, tempting as it is, and got a rack of ribs instead. There’s something very primal and gratifying about grabbing a bone and ripping the meat off of it with your teeth. So savage. Before dinner I had a dram of Balblair, which is a single malt that’s similar to lighter fluid. The first two sips are a shock to your system, but after that, it’s smooth sailing.
H. and I occasionally go out for an evening in the city, get good and lubricated, and hold the Suffering Olympics. She has problems. I have problems. We both go for the gold, but I’m sorry to report that this night, I only ranked a bronze. Four hours of commuting each day and a tenuous job does not trump an affair with a married man. It might sound like an unpleasant evening to you, dear reader, but I can assure you that these meetings are cathartic and necessary for both parties. Like most of us, H. has good, sound advice on how to solve other people’s problems, but gets tripped up when trying to weed her own garden. I help her as best I can. Telling someone how they should live their life is lots of fun, especially after a dram or two of imported scotch. Try it!
We had vague plans to see a play or movie after dinner but it was so beautiful out that we walked up 6th Avenue, past the black tower where she and I once worked together for Brand This! Inc., past Radio City Music Hall to Central Park, sat on a bench and watched the livery drivers whip their horses into action. H. felt bad for the horses. I saw it as an uncomfortable metaphor. The sun set beautifully over the Hudson River and we decided that the fight was worth it and scheduled our next session.
You follow desire, and you are not satisfied.
Again you follow desire, and again you are not satisfied.
Again you try, and again you are not satisfied.
Lama Zopa Rinpoche
C. called and asked how the trip to DisneyWorld went. She told me that when she was young, she and her friends use to drive from their home in Virginia down to Orlando, take LSD, and spend the day wandering around DisneyWorld hallucinating. She remembers sitting in the town square of the Magic Kingdom and laughing hysterically for two solid hours. What a great idea! Why didn’t I think of that? Can you even get LSD anymore? I’m not sure.
I imbibed a few times in back in 1976 and I can assure you that it’s nothing to trifle with. It’s pretty powerful stuff. If you’ve ever taken LSD, you probably know why it went out of fashion. It’s too much. During my “lost loser years” I took it once at home and I had a good time, once while on a whitewater rafting trip in a Pennsylvania forest and had a great time and once at Kent State University. That last one didn’t go so well so I never did it again. But I have to admit that I find the idea of taking acid just once more and watching the swirling colors of the Princess Parade to be mighty appealing. Perhaps after the kids are off to college I can revisit the irresponsible loser side of me. Now, where’d I hide my ceramic human skull bong…?
“Dad, do you want to hear a joke? Why did six—you know, the number six?—Why did six cross the road?”
“I don’t know. Why?”
“Well, it crossed the road to go see a play called “Six” that he thought was about him, but when he got to the theater, the play was actually called “Sick” and it was about a bunch of sick people! Ahh hahahaha!”
Well, it wasn’t funny, but it wasn’t dull, either.