Bring me the head of Buzz Lightyear

The latest tourist shakedown is to dress up in popular animated character costumes and stroll around Times Square. The kiddies insist on having their picture taken with them and the parents surrender a few bucks. It must be lucrative because they’re all over the place. Lots of Sesame Street characters. Dora the Explorer. Hello Kitty.

They aparate out of nowhere and roam the streets. I was passing the 42nd Street subway station and stumbled upon a guy preparing for a hard, hot day inside a costume.


Apparently, there’s a team of assistants who help out.


I don’t begrudge them. It seems like an honest way to make a living. It’s probably no fun to be cooped-up inside a costume during this unusually hot summer. And the kids are genuinely thrilled. Big happy smiles.

He was annoyed that I was taking pictures and stopped walking up the stairs. He wouldn’t move until I left, so I did.


Another hidden facet of the city that I know nothing about. Wheels within wheels.

*     *     *

I met a friend for drinks last evening. Interesting guy. The grandson of iconic American director/ screenwriter/ producer Joseph L. Mankiewicz. He always has good stories to tell. We met at a casual outdoor venue but as soon as we got there it started to pour rain. A biblical deluge!

We dashed into the closest indoor bar, which happened to be in the Bryant Park Hotel. It’s not my scene but it was convenient. Lots of after work suit-and-tie corporate types. Thumping club music. A bit of a meat market. And crazy expensive. A round of drinks for the two of us was $33.75 (before gratuity). We were drinking premium liquor and eating free hot bar appetizers, but still.

As we sat talking, a guy walked in and sat a few tables away. Upper management, from the looks of his tailored suit and manicured nails. Probably in his late 50s. Not fat but kind of soft around the edges. Average looks and aura. To shamelessly borrow from Bukowski:

there he is:
not too many hangovers
not too many fights with women
not too many flat tires
never a thought of suicide

not more than three toothaches
never missed a meal 
never in jail
never in love 

7 pairs of shoes
a son in college
a car one year old
insurance policies
a very green lawn
garbage cans with tight lids
he’ll be elected

Ten minutes later he’s joined by a stunningly beautiful Asian woman. Early 30s, if that. She sits next to him—not across the table. Peck on the cheek. Chat-chat-chat. He reaches down and produces a small, elegant shopping bag. She opens it, takes out a pretty box. It’s a watch. He liberates it from the stubborn packaging and slips it onto her delicate, porcelain wrist. Kiss.

This struck me as the oldest dance steps from the oldest book ever written. I wish them well and hope they find happiness. And if it doesn’t last, perhaps they can find some moments of peace and comfort in each others’ arms.

13 thoughts on “Bring me the head of Buzz Lightyear

  1. All that money, and still flicking through a mail order catalogue to find a supplicant girl he can buy.Unless I’ve got it wrong and the money has absolutely nothing to do with it and my suspicion that it is is entirely unfounded.

  2. Pat: It’s the same story I’ve witnessed over and over again throughout the years. Human need conquers age difference every time.looby: I suspect it started with his money and her youth, but I’d like to hope that something substantial can come from it. You never know.

  3. Your description of the Asian woman reminds me of a blogger called MyChineseDimples. She made her blog private shortly after I started leaving ironic comments on it. She never allowed being an escort to interfere with her dream of becoming a trophy wife. Quite touching really.

  4. moments of peace and comfort. that’s all any of us can hope for… saw a lot of the characters in Times Square. cute, but they were all business if you pointed a camera at them…

  5. The ‘characters’ [movie, not just odd] outside Graumann’s Chinese in LA are flat-out nasty and dangerous. They’ve gotten into physical fights with each other as well as with tourists.NYC is still the very best place for any kind of people-watching. And yes, it would be fun to know the back story and/or what happens next.

  6. Daisy: my fantasy is to film two characters locked in a fistfight. Elmo kicking the crap out of Woody from Toy Story. I’ve always thought that sitting in Times Square or Central Park and just observing is the best way to pass the day. Unfortunately, the pay is terrible. TSB: Weird = entertaining. And you’re correct about lust. It conquers all. It probably always will. Scarlet: Again?! You must, must post photos. Please?

  7. Obviously, TSB missed the heyday of the Naked Cowboy (well, he carried his guitar in front of his jockey shorts, but still…)

  8. Nana: He’s still around! He roams the streets of Times Square sweeping startled/thrilled granny tourists off their feet and into his arms for the photo op. He’s still got a fantastic physique, too. Not that I noticed or anything…

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