(June 15-20, 2001) MANHATTAN
A man with a Rastifarian do parked at a Midtown bus stop in a fancy blue convertible applying matching blue polish to his nicely manicured nails.
As I approached two men of another race on an otherwise deserted avenue in Chelsea, one interrupted their post-Midnight conversation to greet me with a cheery “How y'doin'?” I responded positively as I neared them. He warmly touched my shoulder as I passed.
A woman, also of another race, in a doorway on The Block of Forty-second Street was engrossed with a Yuppiefon. As I neared her, I sneezed. She looked up and said “God bless you!”
An enormous Black man, probably straight, clad in leather and chains, decorated with tattoos, couldn't decide whether to board an elevator thus blocking my way. I was unconsciously Following his to and fro movements. He eventually stepped aside, effeminately flipt his hands near his shoulders, and high-pitchedly said “My bad!” with a wry smile that caused us to share a chuckle.
A post-performance theatre crowd blocked my passage. I pushed through it. Among those I somewhat rudely shoved was Matthew Broderick.
An elderly couple just missed their Uptown bus. The driver, leaning to be seen around me, ordered them to “Get in! I'll catch him”. They didn't get it. “Come on, I'll catch your bus.” They climbed aboard and started fumbling for the fare. “No!” said the driver, blocking the fare box with a hand. A man in mid-bus laughingly said “This is New York?!?” thus brightening an already light moment for the score of us witnesses. I thought, but did not say, 'Yes, indeed! This is New York. New Yorkers are great!' At the next corner, the driver blocked the other vehicle's movement and waited for the grateful couple to board.
From a bus I saw the highly recognizable Tom's Restaurant, hangout of the characters on the television program Seinfeld.
(May 4-24, 2001)
A high-heel'd Roman woman wearing a black dress slit up to glory awaiting a green light, her long blonde hair flowing from her helmet, supporting a motor scooter with a gorgeous, fully-extended, mesh-hosed leg. Unfortunately, other traffic made a photo impossible.
A grandmotherly woman on a Siena bus embarrassed a couple of young women by loudly demanding that they arise from their seats, reserved for war veterans, the infirm, and the elderly, so that my girlfriend and I could occupy them. We were grateful as we were very tired from the day's activities.
A motorman in Milano gave directions to a woman outside the streetcar. When the man in her company started to dispute the information, the motorman crawled under his protective bar and, with stereotypically broad gestures, loudly exclaimed “Dio mio!” in a tone of voice that painfully crackt up us dozen or so passengers. He continued with something that sounded like “You ask for directions, I give you directions, and you dispute my directions?!? Go to Hell!” He huffily returned to his seat, closed the door, and off we went, we fortunates in his presence enjoying a few familial minutes.
A Florentine couple insisted that we share their food after my girlfriend enquired about their dish.
A woman at a Bolognese Chinese restaurant, whose Italian sounded more fluent than her Cantonese, asked me the English for “anitra”. She said “Duck-uh”. I said “Duck”. She said “Duck-a”. I said “No, Duck”. She said “Ducka”. I said “No! Duck!” She said “Duck . . .” “STOP!”
It was close to a warm Midnight when we finally got to Rome's Spanish Steps that were obscured by the hundreds of people sitting on them. Near the bottom were four men with guitars. We positioned ourselves next to one of the two flanking singers who were leading the crowd in English-language song. When the correct beat and tempo were swung, we were surrendered the little space we needed to dance. The crowd roar'd its approval of each of the simple basic steps we did. At the end of the number there was a roar that can only be described as an ovation.