Oh What a Beautiful Morning…and Other Ramblings

My favorite garden in Jackson Heights

(N.B., Jackson Heights was mentioned in last Sunday’s episode of Mad Men. Ken, the adman and writer of science fiction stories, lives here with his wife! Loved the line where Peggy tells Ken: I loved your story about the woman that lays eggs.)

As for the garden pictured above (taken with my iPhone), St. Mark’s Church has an exquisite garden. Each morning on my way to the station, I pass by and stop to gaze upon its abundance. This daily activity brings me deep joy.

Today, as on previous mornings, I’ve found myself humming the words to this Rogers & Hammerstein song, as if if were in a Hollywood movie waiting for Gene Kelly to tap-dance my way down the sidewalk:

There’s a bright golden haze on the meadow,
There’s a bright golden haze on the meadow,
The corn is as high as an elephant’s eye,
An’ it looks like its climbin’ clear up to the sky.

Oh what a beautiful morning,
Oh what a beautiful day,
I’ve got a wonderful feeling,
Everything’s going my way.

What an upper this song is! With our beautiful Spring weather, bright sun (but with a sufficient amount of puffy clouds to keep it interesting), temperatures in the 70s, I could walk around the city all day. But, as always, work beckons…

At the Roosevelt Avenue station, I decide to take the M train and get a seat right away (well, truthfully, I have to sidle over to it rather rapidly to beat out several people).
 * * *
Lately, I’ve been switching trains in the morning, altering my route a bit, just for the sake of change. The M is a local train, but I don’t mind because I have my book. I’m nearing the end of What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank by Nathan Englander — a fantastic, heartfelt, funny, compassionate, artfully written collection of stories, which I’m sorry to see end.
* * *
(Memo to self: get his novel: (The Ministry of Special Cases)
* * *
At Queens Plaza, the car I’m in fills completely up and a young Asian man takes a standing spot directly in front of my seat. He grips the bar above my head.

Which means, I am eye-level to his crotch — and glad to be wearing sunglasses, because…

…his fly is open. I mean, all the way.

For about one second, I think about informing him. But, then again, what if he intended to leave it open? It is, after all, the subway.

Stealing glances upwards from behind my dark glasses, however, convinces me otherwise. Plugged into his iPod, he appears to be in half of a stupor, not quite awake.

I turn on my powers of thought transference. You know how you can be in a crowded place and feel someone staring at you? It’s kind of like that. I concentrate hard and project this thought his way:

Zip up your fly! Zip up your fly!

Too bad I can’t behave the way we did as kids. Whisper out of the corner of my mouth: Hey, buddy, your flying LOW.

So I focus back on  my book. But every so often I glance up to check for new developments. I assume he will be getting off at Lexington Avenue with the rest of the crowd. When the train pulls into the stop, I glance up once again.

He is still there…but, he had zipped up his fly! I wonder how he discovered it? Sorry I missed it. What a let-down.

At 53rd and Fifth, I get off. This stop is famous for its bank of towering escalators (which are often rendered motionless, due to some malfunction or another, forcing hordes of commuters to scale the impossibly high, steep steps one at a time, panting and huffing all the way, as if scaling a Mayan pyramid).

But this morning the escalators are operational.

The top of the escalators, where the commuters feed into the station

About 10 steps above me on the escalator, a homeless man is ranting rather entertainingly and, in a booming voice. He is one of those amazing street people — amazing in that he is raggedy and dirty and quite possibly mad, yes — but also remarkably cogent.

His monlogue:

Women are stealing DNA from the Secret Service to make drones!

Bankers! All they care about is the bottom line. Bankers are like hookers! They have no love!

Hookers don’t love you! Bankers don’t love you!

They steal from babies, old people, sick people, young people, old people, everybody!

Businessmen in suits on the escalators engage him in conversation. Everyone on the escalators is laughing out loud — but, let me emphasize: laughing with him, not at  him. Because he is laughing, too, and enjoying every minute of the entertainment he’s providing. This guy makes our morning. The escalators are our amusement park ride.

And the remarkable thing is — this homeless man must be reading the papers or watching the news because he has his finger on the pulse.

I love New York!

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