I Found a Free Weekend Getaway
Our Town downtown
July 30, 2007
A month ago I stayed in someone’s apartment near Washington Square while they were away. I went over to the park to read that Friday evening while it was light out because I had nothing going on and because I hadn’t spent much time in that park recently. I wound up sitting there for maybe three hours listening to music, watching folks walk by, hardly reading it was so stimulating to just watch and listen.
I came back the next morning with the Times and a cup of coffee, and when I realized that I didn’t actually ***[ital]have[ital]*** to go hurry back to the apartment to watch the women’s tennis final from Wimbledon – or anything on the TV for that matter – all day or all year or all the rest of my life, if I didn’t want to, I was liberated to think that I could sit in the park and watch people go by and listen to music, go get my book, and come back for more. I did that ’til dark. I did it the next day, too. It was like being on vacation. (Anybody who has a weekend place or a summer cottage without a TV will tell you that that’s an [the?] all-important component in being “on vacation.”)
Here’s what I thought about while I sat there:
The fountain ought to be on all the time. The empty dry pool that’s there when it’s off certainly does allow for some noisy, tourist-interesting entertainment. But those guys would find other places to put on their show, and New York’s filled with all sorts of entertainment. Parks are better with fountains on on hot days. It’s a beautiful thing to look at.
There’s no coffee there. You can get all sorts of popsicles, big pretzels, water in bottles, soda pop. But you have to walk a ways out of the park for a cup of coffee. I don’t want the Shake Shack – I just thought it was odd that no one in such an entrepreneurial city was selling coffee from a truck near there.
I love dogs. I grew up with dogs. I had a dog that died at age 16 just before I moved here nine years ago. I still miss him, and have his old dog dish out where I can see it in my apartment. Sometimes in the kitchen I’ll find myself sweeping crumbs off the counter on to the floor as if he were still around to lick them up. I catch myself maybe once every couple months when I’m out somewhere around dinnertime thinking I better get home to feed the dog. That having been said, the dog obsession in/around the dog runs is a little much. No one else’s obsessions are fun to watch.
Some of the music is so good that you can’t believe it. You also can’t believe that so many of the listeners won’t put a measly dollar in the basket.
I saw six impressively strong, alert, no-nonsense plainclothes cops round up six easily-over-40 black drug dealers. While I was watching this occur not 100 feet from me, another dealer strolled by me on my bench and, with his eyes and a soft mumble, tried to sell me some. I wondered how the three black cops felt putting cuffs on these toothless old tigers.
That there are bathrooms at all is a nice surprise. God, are they dirty though. I feel bad for women.
I’d make the bathrooms cleaner even if I had to have an attendant in there all the day. I guess I’d clean up the whole place a little. I’m not sure what I’d do. Make sure the grass is green. Keep the fountain on. That fountain being on makes the whole place feel cleaner. When it’s off, the place seems faded and dried out a bit.
I wouldn’t put a Shake Shack place in the park. That’s all too cute. I don’t hate those places. We all have to eat. But I’d rather have the chess guys in the corner even if they don’t mean much to me. I don’t play chess. But it annoys me to see people standing in a long line at the Shake Shack or at a sushi place or at a breakfast place that will not be as good as Denny’s.
If you don’t have a weekend getaway, get away from your TV and sit in the park the whole time. Read a book, read the paper, hears some tunes, talk quietly on your phone, go get a sandwich and bring it back.