Saturday, October 28, 2006

Who Says New Yorkers Ain't Friendly?

The other night I had to do a little shopping. Truth is when is shopping really pleasurable anymore? It's always I need this and I have to get that - for the kids! Rotten kids, always wanting to be first. Me me me. I'm kidding, okay? Okay.

So I am in search of what would seem to be The Holy Grail - yes, a plain navy blue sweater, the finest in the kingdom. How about the school's requirement - navy? So I strike off in search of this. No go, but I did find pillow shams, a jacket for Julian and socks for me.

While I waited in line to pay, I noticed the man's cart in front of me had pillows, a wooden vase and a towel. Nosy? Just passing time. He turned to me and must have noticed my noticing and asked "nice vase isn't it?" I reply "Why yes, I was just admiring it". He brags as he holds it up "What do you think, probably go for about $60 bucks in one of the stores in the city"? Me, "at least". As a frame of reference, the city he refers to is Manhattan, we are shopping here in Queens.

It's a long line, this store is infamous for them, but I decide to make the most of it with Stuart. He then goes on to showcase his poetic side by reciting several haikus, the self described most devastatingly touching line ever written - "not because I wrote it, people have had that reaction."; I reply "Of course, that's beautiful". I must admit to not hearing half of it as he went into a raspy poet voice in a lower register as price checks were heavy in the air at the adjacent register. He seemed pleased that I liked it. He was suing whichever drug company puts out Lipitor.

He then went into standup mode and told me several of his own jokes. We talked about our heritage and found our commonality - we're both Jewish - he by birth, me by choice. Both of us have some suspect heritage - he suspects his was Irish (which is my heritage for the most part) and I suspect mine could have been Jewish. He was quite interested in the heritage thing, but we quickly moved on to sports. Stuart was a great baseball player in his time (he attempted to unload an official Mets jacket as we waited). Thankfully I had the foresight to answer in the negative when he asked if anyone in my family was into official baseball jackets. As a New Yorker, you just know where these type of questions are leading. Stuart was still in good shape, as he patted his tummy, at 66. Yes, he had a hairtrigger temper, but not like in his youth when he would not hesitate to knock an eight ball right between your eyes in a fight. Somehow I sensed that about Stu.

He gave me his card which he explained had Alex on it because his middle name is Alexander and if I ever wanted a baseball jacket, well to please give a call.

With further exchanged pleasantries, we parted. I don't know, Stuart's a lifelong New Yorker - seemed pretty friendly to me.

15 comments:

Al said...

Funny NY story, G.

We almost always end up in interesting conversations with complete strangers while waiting to check out merchandise at Century 21. It's quite a store, and generally jam-packed with real characters, too - like a comedy club with inventory.

neva said...

a little *too* friendly, if ya ask me. too bad that jacket he was trying to pawn off on you wasn't navy blue (just sayin'...)

actually, it's refreshing to know i'm not the only one who learns such interesting things from people while standing in line. only the folks i meet want to tell me about their 3rd set of teeth ("I lost all my teeth TWICE! my dentist says he's never seen anyone like me!" neither had i) or their need to find a new place to live ("My super is a little too friendly, and my boyfriend's wife won't let me move in with them" no? shock.) so Stuart seems almost normal. almost.

come to Connecticut, girlfriend, i'll fix you up with a navy blue sweater *and* a cheap vase in notimeflat! xox

al: i thought Century 21 was a real estate company. i had no idea housing was in such demand out there!

by the way, G...great post on the SNARK today, missy, lovelovelove it!

al said...

Shhh, Neva, its a secret. (Yeah, right.)

It's Zagat's #1 Rated department store, filled to the rafters with the strange and exotic (customers, mostly, but some of the inventory's a real trip, too). On Cortlandt street downtown, across from the WTC, with a few locations elsewhere in the NY area.

http://www.c21stores.com/

If you don't like crowds, for God's sake, don't go between Thanksgiving and Christmas. They bus 'em in! It's a nightmare! A nightmare! (The horror... the horror...)

Teri said...

Dear G...I love stories like these. Shows to go that there is a small town attitude out there...if we only see and listen, and once in a while admire someone's vase. ;)

Ciao bella...

Diesel said...

Anybody know where I can pick up a nice baseball jacket?

-Alex

G said...

Al: Oh, Century 21 is perfect fodder for such conversations. I like that - "like a comedy club with inventory". Perfect description.

Neva: Didn't I think that! Why am I not surprised that you meet up with the talkers as well. Yeah, almost normal, hmmm. And I just know the navy sweater I seek can be found in Connecticut!

Ah thanks, apparently you may be the only one to think that. Haha, that's why we're NBFF's.

Al, It's okay to let Neva in on it, but let the buck stop there.

Teri, So true. Having grown up in a small town, I wear on the inside that urge to say hi as I walk down the street.

Alex: Yes I do, but make sure the tag has the hologram on it by all means!

First Nations said...

thats normal. the ones I get stuck next to have tinfoil hats and vascular moles. hairy ones.
not the digging kind. those ones are hairy too, but they're the live in the ground type of mole, see, not the lumpy hanging from your lip and wobbling when you talk kind of hairy mole.

that is all.

cj said...

I have never had a bad experience in New York City. Never. They are some of the friendliest people in the world. Its on the list of possible places to live in the year as the other half is occupation is a movin'.

I like learning things about people as I shop or am out and about. Just today I was at the store and the man in front of me had a dozen roses and a box of chocolates. He looked at me and smiled and asked if I wanted to go ahead - I had just a birthday card. I said, "Nah, but I'd get a card and chocolates to go with the flowers and condoms." He smiled and thanked me, and asked if they should be Walton's or Godiva - I of course said "Godiva, and hide the condoms." :)

ann said...

one day, just one day my dream is to go to New York... I must get there before I die, preferably while I can still walk... LOL

G said...

fn: Tinfoil hats? Those I usually run into on the subways.

cj: I have to say, it's a lot of small neighborhoods that make up one pretty big city. Nice folks. Oh and good advice on the Godiva of course ;)

Preferably Ann and preferably while I live here! Not that we have any grand plans to depart.

xox all ~ Enjoy your daylight savings! I know I need that extra hour.

Anonymous said...

Hi g! Very surreal story if ya asked me, but you're right. Stuart, or Al, was just trying to make a little conversation to pass the time, and that's cool.

When I first moved to Tennesse from Miami, FL, the friendliness of the folks freaked me out. These people will wave at you while you drive by! It was like a Stephen King story where the town people are eerily friendly, only to find out later they eat newcomers after their third week in town.

But no, I'm still here, and now I'm used to it.

Thanks for dispelling eh notion of NYC that I had.

Mo'a said...

Good story....I run into much friendlier people in the city, than here in the burbs....it may be because I am a city girl and that I smile more when I can smell "bus exhaust"

G said...

Pavel: Glad I could be of service, although you don't have me quite at ease on Tennessee.

Mo'a: I have to agree completely - having lived in both evnironments. Ah yes, I do love the smell of bus exhaust in the morning.

Mutha said...

You describe a scene I can relate to -- as I am usually open to chatting someone up in a long line, but my kids pointed out recently that this is the dreaded "talking to strangers."
Hmmmm....drag. How else ya gonna learn about Stu?

G said...

Mutha! May I be the first to say that I'm green with envy over your new avatar?! Couldn't help that, but I do love it.

How else I ask? Kids - those little buggers are always tripping us up!!!