Heat Wave

It’s a hundred degrees in New York City and people are grumpy. Sweat dotted the shirts of most commuters. New York City’s bowels are rearing their heads. A filmy, visible stench wafted up Broadway on squiggly cartoon lines. Only this smell isn’t meant to be funny.

I walked home. I walked the same route I do every day. One of the neighborhood crackheads stood outside the local 24-hour deli asking for change. Sometimes, he’s there alone. Occasionally, his girlfriend begs as well. She’s a horribly taught and overly veiny girl. She’s often hysterical and her movements are usually erratic. There have been a few times where they’re both outside screaming at one another, faces red with anger or withdrawal, pimples plump beneath the sudden introduction of blood. I have grown to nearly despise these two and I see them more than I do my very own parents.

I have given out change to people in the past. Every New Yorker has their regular charity case. I usually give it to the scrawny toothless man who stands outside Grand Central asking for money to feed the homeless. He stands before a great big empty water cooler jug yelling, “Help to feed the homeless. Anything you spare can and will make a difference. Help to feed the homeless tonight.” Given the heat, I couldn’t help but wonder if on this particular day people would be better off if his water cooler contained actual water. Given the heat, I dropped in a soundless donation.

There was another girl walking about three feet behind me. She was bouncy. She walked on her toes like a poodle. The crackhead became visibly annoyed with our snobbery and began asking for sexual favors. For some reason, I turned to give him a look. That’s when the bouncy woman and I made eye contact. Her mouth opened as if a ventriloquist was in control. Laughter came out opposite her lips’ movements. She cackled. Her eyes were wide and everyone else around turned to look. I knew that she was trying to bond with me about what the crackhead had said but her explosive excitement made me feel worse.

I walked by the local butcher and his clerk. They stood in front of their windows, which were decorated in a variety of hanging meat products. The red rawness intermixed with white bits of fat made my stomach turn. The butcher and his clerk checked out the girls as they headed home from their Manhattan offices. They never check me out. While they are surrounded by raw meat all day, I am simply not their taste.

The Italian restaurant on the corner was readying itself for very little business. A group of young men were standing outside spitting and chewing and talking. No one ever seemed to eat there. I wasn’t sure if it was because of these men and their sports cars, or if the food wasn’t really that good. Either way, it was always empty. I wondered how the owners paid their rent and kept the place in business. I concluded that their food must be spoiled.

One of the sports cars was bright yellow. It had one of those unnecessary fins that shot off the back. I outgrew men like that when I was 15. That happened right around the same time I was introduced to the Stooges. Is it wrong of me to think that men who drive yellow sports cars and wear shiny jackets were something a girl should outgrow? It was also a bit naïve considering they were often seen with women, women who had painted fingernails, women who wore makeup.

Perhaps they outgrew me.

I crossed beneath the BQE. An Asian man sat shirtless in a white truck waiting for the light to turn. His engine revved and black smoke billowed up and away from it. We made eye contact briefly. His skin was wet as was my own. Human condensation. The thought made me gag.

The Mobil gas station was filled with hungry cars and mostly SUVs. And I hated them all. I scoffed at the one on the corner for not letting me cross when I had the right away. There he was, the driver, fat and jolly in his big car, windows up, AC blaring and he was making me wait. The world’s lack of compassion will surely devour us all. I had an overwhelming urge to cause harm onto this man. Sophomoric and sometimes harmful thoughts like this cross my mind when I’m uncomfortable.

Everywhere is hot and everyone is grumpy. Beads of sweat cover the city and evaporate on its black streets and concrete sidewalks. Sometimes, it seems like New York City barely makes it through a day. The subways lie beneath a measly 15 stairs, the street beating down from above. What’s holding it all up? I think about this often. How is it we all live together? Who’s making this show run? How does it keep running, day-in, day-out? Time Square uses up more electricity than my hometown, New York City’s unnecessary fin.

I’m left wondering if I’ll ever outgrow the city.

Perhaps it’ll outgrow me.

Updated to add: The 1,2 and 3 trains had issues earlier but are apparently up and running again.

LaGuardia is still having to cancel flights due to power outages in certain terminals.

I just got word in that Park Slope is without power as is parts of Union Street.

25 Comments

  1. What a strong account of your day. I guess the heat does that to us… makes us observe.

    We’re all collectively uncomfortable.

    Reply

  2. i dont know if this helps but i work in chinatown. try walking through that on a morning when its already 80 degrees at 8 AM.
    not nice.
    hey arent you meant to be in naragansett soon?
    imagine it. now.

    Reply

  3. little compton. eating grilled oysters and the freshest corn and best heirloom tomatoes…

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  4. As I read this, the Lovin’ Spoonful was playing in my head.

    Hot town, summer in the city
    Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty
    Been down, isn’t it a pity
    Doesn’t seem to be a shadow in the city

    All around, people looking half dead
    Walking on the sidewalk, hotter than a match head

    Reply

  5. i wanna come see you when youre there.
    or you could come to bahstan for dinnah.
    how do you grill an oyster? dont they fall through? har har.

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  6. Heather, do you have a car?

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  7. yep.a lesbaru, as jen calls it.
    its pretty doggified though.
    you will only be an hour away from me when youre in RI.

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  8. Toby, grill me some clams please. Quahogs! Littlenecks! I’ll even open them for you.

    Oysters aren’t great in summer. smushy. I don’t know if the rule that you shouldn’t eat oysters in months without the letter R is still true though. I tend to adhere to it, for local ones at least.

    can’t wait!

    Reply

  9. I hadn’t ever heard that before, Nico. Wow. So no oysters then, eh? Interesting.

    Heather, make sure you get Tobyjoe’s number. If you call us, you should come on down to the beach. Or pick our asses up and take us to Boston. Ain’t ever been there.

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  10. oh, thats it then. im picking you up for a daytrip.

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  11. I was thinking of clams. I’ve never had either, and was simply confused. I was thinking of those quahog things. The big ones.

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  12. quahog? big ones? y’all talkin’ smack.

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  13. I’ll take you to bivalves 101 at ‘the barking crab.’ there’ll be no confusion after that.

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  14. the barking crab? Bivalves? Why is it I suddenly feel like I no longer understand English.

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  15. who needs english, when youve got seafood?

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  16. true. very, very true. I love the seafood, sweet jesus, do I.

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  17. has it hit 100?

    i thought it hasn’t actually topped 94 yet this summer (aside from the humidty ‘feels like’ adjustment )

    Reply

  18. 2006 is Toby’s Summer of the Bivalve.

    (It took me a long time to come up with something that didn't sound dirty for this.)

    Reply

  19. Oh, come on! The dirtier the better!

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  20. WOW. And I thought people were going to be discussing concrete and heat and stuff…

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  21. nope. it’s all about aphrodisiacs and sex with Nico, Toby and Heather.

    Reply

  22. ya’ll are going to have a 4-way!!!!

    Is there such a thing or is more than 3 just an orgy?

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  23. Holy crap, four ladies on Tobyjoe? His head just exploded a little bit. (By head, I mean the one at the very top of his body, sick-o.)

    Reply

  24. no offense but im saving myself for jonathan.

    Reply

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