Saturday, September 30, 2006

The Week in Coincidences

Warning: The following is way more like a regular blog than usual. Full of bla-bla-bla about my life, without the rich detail you've come to expect. But the coincidences and some of the dumb comedy impelled me to put it all down.

Last Friday night at dinner at my cousins' house, I narrowly avoided being the only adult at the children's table -- how this still happens to me I'll never know. I ended up at the grownups' table after all, between a small, spritely man with white hair and a quiverful of forced puns and, on my left, a striking brunette with an easy smile and a small Band-aid on her eyebrow. The gent and I had already spoken before dinner, so as he carried on with the woman on his right, I engaged in chitchat with the Band-aid woman. She has five kids -- four with husband the first and one with Mr. Right Now -- but that wasn't what made her so very interesting. No, what made for a highly engaged conversation was the fact that we'd gone to high school together. It sort of came up naturally, and once it did -- and the fact that we'd been there at the same time -- we had plenty to discuss. Neither of us remembered the other, though her maiden name sounded familiar, but we'd both been fans of Jos. Hoppenbrouwers, a stern yet intensely caring and funny Belgian man who used to teach French at our school. He was a sort of secret treasure, and L and I both delighted in finding someone else who had recognized that. We promised to be in touch and of course nothing's come of it, but it was fun while it lasted. Viva Manhattan.

The next night, I had dinner at another cousin's house, way downtown on Grand St., where I met an Israeli filmmaker who's met my Israeli filmmaker pal Anat Zuria. Her husband thinks he knows my pediatrician friend MC (whose book I should be working on right now), because they're both North African-French Jews, and apparently that's a pretty tight-knit little world here in NYC. These two live in Williamsburg, and MC is opening up the first Manhattan-émigré-friendly pediatric clinic in Williamsburg ... do I sense a match here? I made the introduction.

You've already read about Saturday night in these pixels earlier. Circle Line, etc. Glimmer glimmer whoosh. Blogging under the influence. There was this one disturbing image in Times Square, which is rife with disturbances on a Saturday night.

(Apologies for the phonecam image quality.) Times Square makes my old Hollywood Blvd. stomping grounds look like kid stuff. The chief distinction is that Hollywood Blvd. is rarely home to hundreds of armed cops and marshals, all of whom seem to be standard-issue after dark in Times Square. I walked past this scene at about midnight, and the same guy was still on the sidewalk a half-hour later. By then he was horizontal, and the crowd was a little bigger. No coincidences.

Sunday the bike broke in Central Park. Later, I met my most fun friends, the Minneapolitans, at the karaoke bar. As usual, all their friends were fun, lively artists too. After I shredded my throat channeling a Neanderthal in rut on "Baby Hold On," one of them, a bona fide perfessional musician, asked, "Dude, what do you do? Are you a singer? You have a great voice." That made it all worth it. Even if I could barely hold a note for two days. Creativity through adversity. Arbeit macht frei.

Speaking of Arbeit, on Monday I put in a full day at the office, then met an editor for dinner. No coincidences. No rich comedy. See previous post for details.

Tuesday I worked again and then met a friend for happy hour at Sapa, followed by a return visit to the karaoke bar at 2nd and 2nd. That was no coincidence either. That was when I hit myself in the nose with a microphone. That was the sake talking. It didn't hurt, so I barely noticed it. Except for all the blood. Blood, blood everywhere, and not a drop to drink. Blood on my hands, blood on my shirt, blood on her shirt -- Jesus, I was geysering blood and all I wanted to do was get back to the music. So I excused myself for a moment.

In the bathroom, trying to wash off the affected area, I couldn't stop laughing at the size of the contusion. How could such an innocuous little tap cause such dermal mayhem? Blood clotting, we went back to the music. Later, when I got home, I found that the mike's screen had left a swastika-like grid imprinted deep on the bridge of my nose. I thought to make it less conspicuous by applying a Band-aid, but the only Band-aids in my cabinet were "Grinch"-branded tie-ins -- bright green with Sneetches on them. Each one says “Official movie merchandise.”

The Band-aid is both comical and intensely stupid-looking, an effect which only grows richer when I try to explain what happened. In fact, I like my green Band-aid so much I may keep wearing it after the wound is gone. Chicks dig it. The hard part is making the incident sound anything but pathetic. Which it is. Why fight it? One woman -- the tall, glammy neighbor with whom I shared a cab to JFK three weeks ago (when it turned out we were both taking the same flight to Minneapolis!) -- laughed in my face in the lobby two days ago and said, "You have to come up with something better than that!"

Well, I'll see what I can do. Nobody believes me when I say I had a nose job. Or got into a fight. Maybe I'll say I left it on the grindstone too long.

OK, back to the coincidences. Thursday evening, I was riding my newly repaired bike past my friend P's mom's building on 96th Street. I was thinking, "Hey, that's P's mom's place," and then there she was, walking toward the subway. I stopped and we talked for a little while. She was going to see Lawrence Lessig talk about Creative Commons at the Public Library. Ten minutes and a thousand tiny southbound revolutions later, I was waiting for the light to change at 57th and Broadway when along came Jon of Jon Valdi, a small boutique I used to visit in L.A. I hadn't seen him since he and his design partner moved here a few years ago. We talked for a few minutes, and then I resumed my southerly progress toward the studio of a painter I'd met the previous week. Those coincidences? He was born the same year I was, and whereas I was born in NYC and moved to LA at age four, he was born in Santa Monica and moved to New York at age four. Later that evening, visiting a neighbor and new friend, , I discovered that she'd gone to high school with my close college pal A, right here in NYC. (I met P (of P's mom fame) through A, for what that's worth.)

Friday, I met MC for lunch in Williamsburg, where he's building his new clinic. Afterward, I roosted in the backyard of a coffeeshop on Bedford for a few hours, tap-tap-tapping away, and then caught a train back to Manhattan to meet J, an old pal, at her new office for a drink. We were half a block from Sapa, so back I went. Though we sat on the other side of the place, the same guy took our order. I don't call that a real coincidence, but still. Jigmed. That's his name. Jigmed. It's Tibetan.

After that, I was supposed to meet P for another one uptown, but he called from downtown to say he'd just had dinner with Lawrence Lessig ... and did I want to come meet him and Vernon Reid for a drink?

I'm still wearing the green band-aid. And New York feels smaller and more like my long-lost home every day.

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