Wednesday, December 29, 2010

on karma

Remember the four-day date? Friday, December 19th, 6:19 pm to 7:18 pm, en route to the opera, I was stuck underground, lodged between Spring and Canal on the C train, already late for my Moonstruck fountain moment with Jack?

That unsung hour, so easily obscured by the flashboom romance that ensued, was really a microcosm of a Meg Ryan movie in which I, the heroine, joined a chorus of kvetching commuters stranded on the subway.

It went a little like this: I was sitting by the door, my big-girl heels crossed at the ankles, my Kindle in my lap. I was listening to pre-game opera on my iPod and perusing the New York Times, paying but peripheral attention to the bitching and moaning and "Come on, man" banter that is customary with gratuitous transit delays, and wincing with every stationary minute.

Eventually, I cracked, breaking the fourth wall of my anonymity to bond with my fellow New Yorkers. We all do it. In these moments the whole city is your family.

Tell me about it. I have opera tickets.

More back-and-forth. The lady at my left was hosting a birthday party in the Village, at one of those snooty bistros that don't seat incomplete parties (and don't hold tables more than fifteen minutes). The lady in front of me had left work early to get some Christmas shopping done—so much for that idea. Another was on her way to meet a friend.

You're going to the opera?

If I ever make it, I answered. The story followed. It's my first real date with this guy I'm sort of crazy about . . . and I'm supposed to meet him at the Met, by the fountain, five minutes ago . . . and he doesn't have a phone.

You would have thought I'd exposed a ring of seal-clubbing puppy-skinning crime lords. These women, with their own places to go and people to meet, were aghast. If they could have formed a human chain to crowd-surf me up the island to Lincoln Center, they would have done so immediately.

Instead, they all held their impotent cell phones in the air to search for signal. They brainstormed. They demanded to know what kind of adult male doesn't have a cellular device.

A fourth woman chimed in. I live up there. When they open the doors, we'll split a cab. We'll get you there!

Only, they (the MTA) didn't open the doors. Oblivious to our plotting, an unruly cluster of men at the front of the car had begun to heave their bulk at the door, to force it open. Two minutes later, we were free, carried along in a human torrent up and to the street. My cabmate and I darted from corner to corner until we found a cab. We cajoled our driver to brave the West Side Highway, then Bridget, new-found wingwoman extraordinaire, spent the next nine minutes calling every business she could think of abutting Lincoln Square.

Lululemon: So I have a crazy request. My friend and I—she looked over to me and winked—were just stuck on a train WITH POLICE ACTIVITY for almost an hour and she was supposed to meet her date by the fountain at seven. Can you send someone over to tell him she is on her way?

Starbucks: No, I understand that your customers come first, but this is their FIRST DATE and she was stuck underground.

Rosa Mexicano: Surely someone can just pop over and help her out? I mean . . . the subway stopped because of POLICE ACTIVITY.

Of course no one would help. It was the height of the pre-theatre rush and this is New York City, not Brigadoon, but I had to admire her temerity, her utter willingness to troubleshoot.

We pulled up behind the sky lawn at about 7:32. I tried to hand her cash, but she wouldn't have it. She nearly pushed me from the cab.

No no, my treat. You just go get your man! And, with that, she thrust her card into my hand and demanded only that I tell her how it went.

Tonight, as a positive affirmation, I sent the email. Because, really, it was an absolute success. I made it and the date was grand. If nothing else, I have that victory. And so should she.


Phoenix said...

You're also restoring my faith in New Yorkers. You really don't want to do that, I have a love/hate relationship with New Yorkers (even as I'm dating one) and I prefer to stay to the cynical edge of things.

You really have so much magic in your life, do you know that? I hope you do.

Kathleen said...

You're right. Movie moment! Like when everyone sings and Santa appears, or the audience claps and Tinkerbell lives!

jane said...

What an amazing woman. Gotta admire her persistence.