How was your Labor Day holiday? Did everyone manage to stay out of the Emergency Room? Or am I the only one?
This is a picture of me after I ruptured my quadricep tendon by
going for a personal best in the local Labor Day Triathelon running up the stairs at my uncle’s cabin in upstate New York. So you can say that I’ve had better holidays.
That’s why I’m going to tell you a story I call:
I’m Hip. Really. No, Really.
Once upon a time, last week, when it was sunny and hot and lucious — the last week of Summer . . .
I was running errands in the village, and since I was going out in public I’d pulled on a brown skirt so I’d look presentable (after all, I know people in this town). OK, the skirt had an elastic waistband, and I had my worst-looking pair of sneakers on, and I thought that my sunglasses were dark enough that I wouldn’t have to put make-up on, but really: I thought I was decent enough for my public appearance.
Being out and about means that I have to cross a very busy main street in this village, which always makes me fearful. I’ve learned that you should always assume that Long Island streets are full of Long Island traffic with Long Island drivers who are: (1) busy texting, reading, doing their nails, or in such a goddam hurry that they WILL mow you down (2) drunk.
So I practice defensive walking accordingly.
I waited at the light, and on the other side on the busy main street I noticed two teenage girls also waiting to cross. They were heartbreakingly lovely: long glossy hair, tall and tanned, wearing short shorts and teeny tops and giggling about something to each other. The light changed and I began my “Don’t Kill Me I’m Only Trying To Cross The Street” scurry.
I have bad knees, arthritis from all that pogoing to punk bands and various bar fights back in my hey day, and when I scurry across a busy main street I do not lope gracefully. I scurry like the crippled, barnacled, terrified-of-dying pedestrian that I am. Only this time, I was scurrying with the soles of my sneakers and my brown skirt flapping in the breeze. I must have looked like a horseshoe crab in a tutu.
The teenage girls on the other side of the street had not immediately noticed that the light had changed and I was half way across the street before the teenage girls deigned to set foot in the crosswalk, and I met them a few paces into their leisurely stroll across the road.
I had not planned to say anything at all to these girls, but before I knew it this came out of my mouth:
“You better hurry!” I barked at them; “Or you won’t get across the street before the light changes!”
Of course they looked at me with utter incomprehension (and a little bit of fear — who was this crazy lady barking at them in the road???) while not breaking their stride one bit, and continued their slow amble across the road. I, from the safety of the sidewalk, had to turn back to watch how serenly those girls g-l-i-d-e-d to the other side, safely, even after the light had turned red. And then I started to laugh.
How could I have forgotten?? That two heartbreakingly lovely teenage girls in short shorts and teeny tops with gleaming hair and tanned skin KNOW, in every cell of their beings, they KNOW that they never have to hurry to cross a busy street because traffic will ALWAYS stop — for them.
How could I have forgotten the power that beautiful girls wield? These girls will grow up to be the beautiful girl in your college English class who can’t write a sentence — she connects all her phrases with dashes — like this — for pages at a time — which your besotted professor will hail as “epigrammatic” while Sharla (yes, that will be her name) tosses her frosted blonde hair in insincere modesty. They will grow up to be the beautiful co-workers who are allowed to skip a day of work when they call in “tired” (oh yes, this is true), and the beautiful wife who gets to tear out the gorgeous French Rustic kitchen in the mansion her husband bought for her so she could put in a new French Rustic kitchen because (as one such wife complained to me) “The old one was eleven years old!”
I had to laugh. The only people who have to worry about getting across a busy street in one piece in life are us people who only have good personalities.
And what I was thinking, wearing that brown skirt. It’s like I was just begging to get hit by a bus.