Mad Men

6 Feb

The Mad Men were out this clear, cold afternoon on Park Avenue.  They moved with a certain grace for ones so old, and in their trenchcoats and fedoras they maintained an air of courtly, no nonsense elegance that their younger colleagues cannot begin to match.

Any vestige of old New York is a joy to stumble upon.  So much so that I, never a fan of businessmen or their mode of dress, was warmed by the site of these guys.  In a city that buries it’s history with the glee of a child at the beach, any continuity, any connection to what came before is both a comfort and a balm.   

As was Monday’s warmth.  Granting an unexpected reprieve from the winter’s chill, the sun appeared and drove the temperature well into the fifties, creating a glorious day that drew everyone to Steinway Park.  Friends that Heath, Hallie and I had not seen in months reappeared, escaping their apartments to bask in the spring-like warmth.  Heath and his buddies, John Peter and Max, crashed into and piled on top of each other like the puppies they are and, despite all the little boy bumps and bangs, nobody cried, which may be a first.

Hallie sat in the sun and played with her brother’s trains, then rested in my arms and finally laid her head on my shoulder and went to sleep.  With one eye on Heath, I held my daughter and talked with Asja, Sonia and especially Jenny, who did so much for us during Hallie’s first days, and who never fails to make me laugh.  It was one of the nicest afternoons of my life.

I love my neighborhood.  I love the bakeries and the bars, the delis and the diners, the library and the parks.  But most of all I love the people,  the friends and acquaintances who share our little patch of Astoria, and whose paths cross ours every day.  This tightly woven tapestry of lives is another remnant of old New York, one that struggles on despite the TVs, computers and busy schedules that contrive to keep us isolated from one and other.  And never is the vibrance of this tapestry more evident than on those days when the weather, and the kids and everybody’s mood combines to create a gentle party, where we all slow down, love our kids and enjoy our friends.

With little warning the sun began to fade and after a short time it was gone.  Snow clouds arose in the west and their approach brought cooling air and a desire for home.  And so we all departed, pulling our reluctant offspring in various directions, making our way down the familiar streets, racing the cold.

As we crossed Steinway and headed down 23rd Avenue I spotted Jenny’s husband Pete crossing the street a block up.

“Look,”  I said, “It’s Pete.”

“Where?”  Heath said, looking at the sidewalk.

“There!” I said, getting down to his level so he could follow the direction of my finger.

“Where?” He asked again, looking up at the clouds.

“THERE!” I said, turning his head with both my hands.

“Where?” he replied, staring off into some vague middle distance.

As this was going on Pete, a tall thin man with very long arms, standing on a street corner, progressed from a mere wave to something akin to jumping jacks in an attempt to draw Heath’s attention. 

Heath never saw him, but I did, and it made me smile all the way home.

 

 

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