2004-08-03 - 6:11 p.m.
I’ve been told, on a few occasions, that I’m loud. Not in the pink shirt, rhinestones on the sunglasses, backpack with sparklies, kind of way, just that as I get excited, my voice tends to jump up a few decibels and octaves, and that tends to draw attention. The tone enough will turn heads, but since I only turn to such vocal libretto at key moments in the conversation, this usually means I’m yelping fairly important information. Drawing panic after barking out, “Five hundred dollars just for sperm?”, while walking through the bike paths of my college campus...that would garner me strange looks for years to come.
I’ve been trying to curb the habit since I’ve came to New York. I may get cold glares in my college town, but this is the city, and most of these people are armed. I’d hate to have an obituary that contained the words “died confessing his undying love of Falco,” especially since I’m not a fan of Falco, and the sarcasm wouldn’t lend itself to the printed record.
You get used to the muted shuffle most people comport themselves with. Cell phone babble aside, your average Metropolitan isn’t likely to break into heated conversation with a stranger, or to draw unnecessary attention to their pack. Sure there are the eclectic bunch who huck themselves into the sidewalk limelight – the naked cowboy has made a living of it – but, in general, most avoid the PDP. (Public Displays of Personality.)
This is what makes it all the more striking when one is walking down Fifth Avenue to lunch, and happens upon a woman singing into her phone. Respectably dressed in business casual, and wearing approximately twenty-five years, she belted out a song into her cell with complete abandon. I’ve caught myself singing in a whisper beneath my breath as I saunter through alleyways, but there wasn't a single drop of self-consciousness in her, despite the fact that she was trilling loudly enough to be heard across a four-lane byway in the heart of a bustling lunch hour. She was nearly skipping, her hair, drawn back in a scrunchy, hopping from one shoulder back around to the other as she went.
I walked along side her for a moment, and a grin wriggled its way into him lips. She may have noticed. She may have noticed and then took that expression as license to include me in the musical number. She leapt in front of me, a hand palm out, fingers flared, with her legs akimbo, singing the line…
“Stopping people in the street…”
The pose was remincent of Wonder Woman, Sailor Moon, or Power Puff Girls, depending on which brand of geek you enjoy.
I didn’t know what to do. She stood there in her, “Stop in the name of love” stance, bopping her head to the side, and grinning wildly. My eyes probably bugged a little, while adopting an awkward grin. Most likely, I looked like a frog.
She turned and bounded off ahead for a moment, and I went about walking, shaking my head, a little embarrassed. Her song continued, and apparently she wasn’t done with me, playfully walking up along side and crooning into my ear, as her hips gave me a bump. More frog face from me.
She turned the corner, dancing down the block towards the park, while the red in my face slowly began to fade. I stopped to look at her, absolutely stunned.
She didn’t seem like one of the New York crazies, nor, apparently, had she gotten the memo about restrictive daytime behavior. She was just happy. Outlandishly happy.
For the rest of my lunch break through to today, I keep wondering, “What in the high heavens, makes someone that joyful, at noon on a Monday?”
I then rethought whatever moral certainty I had about the evils of psychotropic drugs.
The very thought that such exuberance could be born without chemical enhancement is simply too depressing to me right now.
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