Monday, April 24, 2006

Friday in the Park with Joe

Since my new-found joblessness leaves me with plenty of time to kill, I spent part of a beautiful spring Friday in Bryant Park.

Earlier that morning I'd called Shana - who I met a few weeks ago in one of those "boy makes an awkward joke, woman takes pity and eventually gives him her number" stories that you so often see - and asked her to lunch.

Since it was a beautiful day, she suggested that we grab something and eat in the park. I readily agreed - taking the subway into town and stopping on the way to pick up the an amazing chicken and rice dish from a vendor on the corner of 45th and 6th that I used to frequent.

Now I recognize that as a general rule, the more prolonged the comparison, the further it is from the truth. For example, if you pick up a book and read on the jacket that the author is the literary love child of Stephen King and Dan Brown, with Walter Mosley's ear for dialogue and Nick Hornby's ability to wring laughs from pathos, you can pretty much guess that the book is crap. That said, you'll just need to trust me when I tell you that Shana looks like a slightly heavier version of Angelina Jolie.

Which, of course, begs the question "What's she doing with you, then, Joe?" - to which I can only surmise that I must represent her Billy Bob Thornton phase.

As we ate lunch, two things kept running through my mind. First, I realized that Manhattan is pretty small and that it's hard to find a place that doesn't bring back memories. In this case, to paraphrase "Field of Dreams", the memories of the times that L and I had shared in the park were so thick I had to brush them away from my face.

Which, of course, begs the question "Why are you thinking of L while you're having lunch with Shana?" - to which I'll reply that you should know by now that I'm an idiot.

The second thing I noticed is that by virtue of being in the company of an attractive woman, the other women in the area seemed to take more notice of me. It was as if Shana gave me credibility and confidence that I otherwise lacked.

Sadly, that doesn't carry over into other areas of my life. Since the lay-off, I seem to have become something of a pariah. It's as if unemployment - no matter how temporary - is communicable and they fear catching it. In fairness, I can understand how it would be difficult to explain to their significant others how they caught "lay-off" unless they were with someone who already had it.

I'm not complaining about it, particularly given that it's likely that I only notice the abandonment because I have so many hours to fill. Still, it's interesting to observe which people stay by your side when you're down and which ones ignore you no matter how much support you've given them.

And that. my friends, is one to grow on.