Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Streets of New York

A Walk Through the Streets of New York City:

* The lovable Richard Kind emerging from an upper west side deli at 9am.

* The dreamboatish James Marsden emerging from Justin Timberlake's restaurant, Southern Hospitality, in a perfectly worn t-shirt and a Yankees hat. And yes, ladies, he looked every bit as handsome as he does on screen.

* Maria Menunous filming a segment for Extra just north of Times Square. And yes, fellas, she looks every bit as gorgeous as she does on screen. (For your sake, dear readers, I dropped my pretense of being a too-cool-to-care New Yorker and snapped some pictures.)


* Gentlemen in their underwear in the Washington Square fountain wrestling at midnight on Saturday while a crowd of drunken fans cheers them on in some sort of impromptu bizarro version of Fight Club.

A Walk Through the Streets of Any Upstate Town:

* Crickets chirping.

* People walking their dogs.

* Ummm...

Actually, in a number of upstate towns, you're lucky if you even have a sidewalk. I've toured small towns all across the country and often walked a mile or two on the side of the highway to get to an Applebee's or a Dollar General. When you don't have a car, you don't have many other options. (Case in point: the single taxi in my hometown shuts down operations at 8pm. On Fridays.)

Fascinatingly, I've found that if you're the lone walker on a street, drivers will actually pull over and ask if you need a ride! I was floored the first time that happened. I mean, it's not 1958. What if I was a psychokiller? I don't exactly look like a psychokiller, but psychokillers never look like psychokillers. Or so I'm told. I, of course, never got into a strange car because I was always afraid that the driver was a psychokiller. You never can tell.

My most amusing walking-on-the-highway experience occurred in rural Pennsylvania. Very rural Pennsylvania. The town had one traffic light, no pizza delivery, and no residents of ethnic origin. (According to the last census, all 700 residents identified themselves as being Caucasian.) I was taking the short 15-minute walk on the side of a county road to get to the theater. It was a lovely summer evening and I was already in sight of the theater when a car slowed down next to me. I had the following conversation with the female driver.

Driver: "Hon, do you need a ride?"
Me: "Me? Oh, no thank you. I'm fine."
Driver: "You sure? I'd be happy to drop you off someplace."
Me: "Oh, I'm fine. I'm just heading down the street."
Driver: "Really. I can take you anywhere you need to go. I really think you should get in the car."
Me: "I'm just walking to the theater. It's right there. See it?"
Driver: "Then why don't you let me drop you off there?"
Me: "No, thank you. I really am fine. Thanks so much! Bye!"

As she pulled away, I couldn't shake the feeling that I was missing something in that odd series of events. Then it occurred to me: my backpack, walking in the dirt on the side of the road, the motherly tone in her voice, her look of concern and sympathetic head tilt. She totally thought I had walked out of some sort of abusive relationship! I could see the whole thing clearly--she envisioned me getting in a fight, throwing clothes in my backpack, and heading out on the highway on the way to a friend's house. The whole thing smacked of Lifetime Movie Network programming. Suddenly, I felt like I had a whole secret identity. I wouldn't want to be a battered girlfriend, and I don't mean to make light of the whole situation, but it seemed like a really interesting acting exercise. And sure enough, I saw her drive by to check on me as I headed in to the theater. I gave a feeble yet feisty wave, as if to say, "I may have fallen on hard times, but I'm sure I'll get through it."

So fascinating things can happen when you take a walk--wherever you may be!

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