Go Weirdo. Go Weirdo. Go.

12 Aug

New York seems to bring out the inner weirdo in even the most normal person. I think it has something to do with the lack of private space – everyone’s apartments, unless they’re the super rich and who really cares about them anyway, are tiny and crammed with things, so NYers spend more time outdoors, doing the things you would normally do indoors.

Like eating dinner with your family (more people eat out here than anywhere else in the world, or at least that’s how it seems). Or commuting to work, which in Orange County is done mostly in the private confines of your own car, where no one is sitting cheek to jowl with you, jostling you with every bump in the road, disturbing the refrigerated air with their steaming bodies, their very bodily odors clouding your otherwise unremarkable Monday morning.

Here, everything is done outdoors. In the restaurants, on the sidewalks, in the elevators. With the whole world as your audience. You would expect odd behavior from students, which is exactly what CityBoy and I witnessed a few weeks ago when walking through the East Village. NYU is down there and oddballs litter every corner. Usually I make the pilgrimage to the Village by myself, as it is home to the only Trader Joe’s in Manhattan (more on that in another post), but it was the weekend, so CityBoy and I were enjoying a stroll through the nutties.

I believe we even had a task: find a new rug for the apartment’s entryway that was not hideous and not obviously made with toxic materials and not $300 (this had proven to be surprisingly difficult, as New York has an abundance of either terribly cheap crap made from carcinogens or lovingly made “pieces” that come with their own pedigree and sticker shock).

Usually my answer to all things is, “I’m going to Target,” which does not work in the city, as there is no Target here. Don’t worry, I’ll wait as you gulp down that incredible piece of news. Yes, Manhattan, the Big Apple, the Shining City on a Hill does not have a Target. To visit that mecca of chic and cheap, you’d have to travel to…double gulp…New Jersey. As you may already know, CityBoy has a deep and abiding distrust of all things not in Manhattan, so this is like saying, “Oh, that’s easy. You just have to go to Middle America.”

So we were going to the next best thing (or more accurately, our last pathetic hope), KMart. I know, KMart has tried valiantly to spruce up its image, partnering with Martha Stewart and actually mopping their floors, etc. But really. It’s still KMart. I remember feeling an almost palpable repugnance well up in me when we used to be dragged there as children. It was like shopping at Sears! (Sorry to all the Sears shoppers.)

Anyway, to get this now deeply meandering post back on track, the only KMart in Manhattan is in the East Village. And to get there, we had to navigate around the huddled masses of high school and college students out enjoying a warm summer day, yelling at friends, texting from the middle of the street and in general, just annoying the heck out of everyone else.

So imagine my delight and surprise when the answer to, “What’s that noise?” turns out to be a group of guys dressed in very little, dancing to disco and banging on their cow bells, on the street corner. Most of them were in speedos and vintage 70s loafers and one of them even appeared to be wearing an astronaut’s helmet.

bongos and Speedos

I had to laugh and then take a photo. CityBoy kept trying to pull me away, muttering, “Don’t encourage them.” As far as I could tell, they were young, strapping (certainly!) men who were bored and decided this would be great fun on a Saturday afternoon (and probably a great way to pick up chicks). It was lovely and unexpected and strange and wonderful.

Juxtapose this experience with one from a few weeks ago that still makes me laugh. I was in line at the CVS around the corner, waiting to pay for a late night Coke and chips (CityBoy had virtuously decided to go to the gym after dinner and of course I immediately craved sour cream and cheddar Ruffles).

An elderly man stepped up to the cashier with a large box in his hands. He immediately began arguing with the woman, telling her in a thick Eastern European accent that THIS (here he thumped his box) was only $17.99 at Walgreens, whereas CVS wanted $24.99 for it. He was outraged and kept thumping the box. He told her he would bring in the ad for her to see, to which she replied, repeatedly, that she was sorry but their price was $24.99 and she could do nothing about other stores’ ads. “What do you want me to do?” she asked and waived her manager over.

At this point, I finally caught a better glimpse of the box. This man was blithely arguing over the price of his…Depends! Can you believe it? Loudly and without embarrassment, this man was demanding his right to affordable adult diapers. The best part was that when the manager finally came over, she actually offered to discount the Depends by $2. By this time, everyone in line and behind the counter was smirking and chucking at this man’s chutzpah.

There are a lot of weirdos in New York. A lot. But I hope at least a few of them have the flair and balls-out attitude of these guys.

Rock on, weirdos.

Jho

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One Response to “Go Weirdo. Go Weirdo. Go.”

  1. T.J. August 17, 2009 at 10:58 pm #

    If only we could all be so bold. 🙂

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