People You Meet Along the Way

On an overcast, breezy, moderately chilly day this past Thursday — my favorite kind of New York weather day — I strolled up Fifth Avenue on my lunch hour. Peering over the stone wall bordering Central Park, I saw picnickers, leisurely strollers like myself, Zoo patrons, and lots of diversity along the way.

The outpost of Strand Books at the corner of 59th and Fifth was buzzing. I stopped to browse. The film “Rebecca” has always been a favorite of mine. A film by Hitchcock, but the novel was penned by Daphne Du Maurier. I’ve always meant to read it. A collection of her short stories, however, caught my eye. Particularly, a story called “The Birds.”

strand

That’s when I remembered that the eponymous story provided the trajectory point for that other Hitchcock favorite of mine.

I purchased the book at a very reasonable $7.95 and continued my stroll up Fifth, looking for a place to sit down and read.

This vacant spot on a bench beckoned to me.

REDHAIR

But then I overheard this conversation between two guys walking behind me:

“Wanna sit there?”

Audible shudder. “Nuh uh. I don’t want any freaks sitting around me.”

“I know a dude who never go outside. He say, ‘Hey, Jimmy, where you go?’ And Jimmy say, ‘I goin’ outside. Whyn’t you go?’ And he say, ‘Dude, you know I don’t go outside in my neighborhood.’ “

So I kept on walking.

Around 65th Street., bleachers were set up next to the park, at the ready for some weekend parade (probably The Puerto Rican Day on Sunday).

It was there I found the perfect spot.

BleachersRight next to this tree. The tree’s position partially deflected the wind and also protected me from oncoming Fifth Avenue traffic. Should some crazy, speeding driver miscalculate and jump the curb, the tree would shield me from serious injury.

I nestled into my spot and opened my new book.

THEBIRDSI imagined remaining on the bleachers all afternoon. Even if I shivered a bit in the cool wind that suddenly kicked up. Even if heavy clouds threatened rain. The weather Du Maurier describes on the outskirts of London, where “The Birds” is set, mimicked that of New York. The impending storm enhanced my enjoyment of the story.

I was utterly happy. “The Birds” is a fascinating, absorbing story. The resemblance to the film is slight. In the Preface, I learned Du Maurier did not like Hitchcock’s film. Easy to understand her reasons, even if I am a fan of the Hitchcock film. The book is always better.

As chilly yet cozy as I felt on those bleachers, time sped by, as it does when I’m engrossed in a fine story. I closed the book and began my stroll back down Fifth. Back to the dreaded office.

On my right, this colorful man pictured below was reading aloud, in a sort of murmur, in Hebrew (possibly davening).

ILOVEISRAELHis t-shirt said: I Love Israel.

At the corner of 59th and Fifth, I crossed over to the other side and saw a dog wearing a snappy, seafaring t-shirt:

DOGTEE

And, below, a scary character right out of an Ingmar Bergman film seated in front of the Apple Store:

GRIMREAPER

Nearing my building, I trailed behind this guy and his shirt, taking in his message with more than casual interest:LOSTSOUL

*

All these diverse New Yorkers…way more interesting than those who awaited me in my section of the office:

PTL for the weekend.

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