Springtime for Hipsters
We met at the Northeast corner of Central Park. Each of us had a sandwich. We found a patch of grass between some big rocks, high up enough to see the pond. We ate our sandwiches. We smoked the joint. We watched some robins. H. pointed out that the robin is the state bird of Michigan. I pointed out that H., who uses her passport to prove she is over 21, has no state-issued ID. H. became despondent that she is “stateless.” I realized that New York City is a city-state. I got out all my different photo IDs and performed a short puppet show, to distract H. from the fact that she is stateless.
We decided that we could be the two characters in a 1970s buddy movie, because one of us is blonde and one is brunette, one is tall and one is short. We decided that if someone knows you well enough that they know you “from the inside out” it might be scary. We decided that we should have bi-weekly conferences at which we give PowerPoint presentations on what we have been doing lately. We decided that we should have ice cream sundaes.
“Let’s go watch that duck stick his butt up in the air,” said H. We wondered if the duck knew that everyone could see its butt when it dove into the water. Did it feel a unique satisfaction when it caught a fish, like a human does when it dislodges something that is stuck between its rear molars?
We passed a tiny waterfall. Soon we were in the midst of Little League practice. I convinced H. we could walk through the outfield unscathed. We passed the reservoir. We walked through a tunnel of pink flowering trees.
We came upon the statue of Hans Christain Andersen. We sat on his slippery bronze knee and read the two engraved pages of The Ugly Duckling. It didn’t take very long so then we read them backwards. While we were doing this a small line of tourists formed, cameras at the ready, to recreate the same photo opportunity.
We passed the zoo. We hate zoos. We don’t think polar bears belong in Central Park. We watched the sea lions, trapped on their tiny island in their tiny tank. I heard a man explaining to his girlfriend in French that the sea lions lived in a tiny tank. “My thoughts are being translated into French by this man,” I thought, seamlessly melding paranoia with solipsism. Next to us, also observing the sea lions, was a man wearing striped hot pants with a peace sign on the back pocket over white pantyhose, with high-top sneakers and a big floppy hat. The French couple, the man in the hot pants and H. and I all went our separate ways, leaving the sea lions alone in their tiny tank.
We ate hot dogs. We ate Mr. Softee ice cream cones with sprinkles. We came to the south end of the park, got on the F train and rode it to the Lower East Side.
The Lower East Side was noticeably different from the Upper East Side. It was now dark out and we were tired and hungry. We went to the nearest version of Fake France. There are cafes all over the city that are faithful renderings of French cafes. We are collecting them in every neighborhood in Manhattan and Brooklyn. When we need to meet up, we try to meet in Fake France, so the waiting will be pleasant. I think it’s perfectly all right to refer to Fake France as Fake France, as the proprietors of these cafes are clearly aware that it looks an awful lot like France in their cafes. H. does not agree. The last time we went to Fake France, in Park Slope, H. told me I was not “keeping it together.” Apparently I was gesticulating loudly about the fakeness and the Francness. “How would I keep it together?” I asked testily. “Watch me,” she hissed, “and do what I do.” She was paying the man for the wine at the time. So I got out my wallet and paid the man for the wine. This seemed to placate her.
Fake France on the Lower East Side was in good form. The very friendly waiter was there. He is like an urban wood nymph. He asks what you want to order in such a conspiratorial way that you feel you are about to tell him a marvelous secret instead of just, “Merlot.” Over in the corner a man had a small stuffed animal lashed to his flowery hat. “It’s a different stuffed animal sometimes,” the very friendly waiter whispered conspiratorially, and dashed off. We had merlot. We had carrot-ginger soup. We had espresso. We were no longer tired and hungry, but instead were drunk and caffeinated.
We went to attend the avant-garde dance performance. It was just as we expected. The dancers were wearing noisy green plastic raincoats. They ran around in that dancer way, with their eyebrows raised and their shoulders squared and their feet articulately arched.
The music for the first act was entirely produced by two cellular phones being called and made to ring. We were served wine, grapes, carrots and salami on saltines during the intermission. The man who had served the food then flung several plates to the floor and smashed them, signaling the beginning of the second act. The music for the second act was played on an electrified dinner plate with a magic marker. After that we drank all night with a group of people I had once met on the street and watched television with until dawn, who happened to be at the dance performance. All of their names start with J.
It was a very big day.