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2004-06-25 - 5:02 p.m.

Central Park seems to be of two reputations: The first, a romantized wonderland of natural beauty tucked into the center of a crumbling urban sprawl. The second, a good place to be mugged, robbed, beaten, raped, or have an public interlude with a deviant who happens to share a predilection towards the same sins you do.

The truth is somewhere in the middle. Dog walkers, joggers, tourists with multiple cameras, and business people taking the scenic route to their favorite bistro, mix liberally with those who have nothing better to do, or no other place to go.

The park isn’t that much of a walk from work, so on sunny Fridays, especially those like today, when funds are low (read: gone.) I’ll grab a fresh pack of Camels and a Snapple and wander off into the park.

It’s no more relaxing than a good coffee joint, especially since the best benches are usually taken at three in the morning, and the only seating available can be found in ingenious, volcanic, or sedimentary form.

Still it’s a good excuse to mass murder my lung cells while adding a few scribbles to my notebook. It’s lack of any drama or action makes it the perfect place to quietly self-destruct in a flurry of self-deprecating missives.

This is why this duck is so disturbing.

A female duck, (is there a word? Womallard?) has squatted down at my feet, and is staring at me. She quacked as she waddled over, but has turned mute here by my Sketchers. (My sister bought them for me for Christmas. Please make no stylistic judgments.)

For a while, I suppose that the duck is attempting a Vulcan Mind Meld. Maybe she desires experiences that stretch beyond the park. She seeks adventures that do not include an angry vendor throwing away week old hot dogs. Maybe there is something in my soul that calls out to her duck heart; a connection crossing all lines of species or vocation. There may be something important that she wishes to say that can’t be expressed in “quack” that she hopes will pass to me through her eyes...

“A kid pissed on my husband, and he needs a good smacking.”

“Someone dropped some barbeque chips over there. You want some?”

“My existential angst is being interrupted by this fucking annoying itch I’ve got on my back. Little help?”

As I delve deep into this semi-aquatic animals spirit, I ash my cigarette. Her eyes follow it. I bring it to my lips and inhale. She watches. He head cocks to the side as I rest my cigarette bearing hand on my thigh.

Even the ducks in the park are trying to bum smokes off me.

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