Friday, September 20, 2013

Speedos, Scooters, and Swimming at Seven A.M.

There aren't many reasons I'll get up before 6 a.m. on a weekday. With a 30-minute commute, there actually aren't many reasons I'll get up before 7 a.m., either. However, one of the only times I can swim during the week is between 7 and 8 a.m., so--at the expense of my later-day energy levels--I tend to get up before 6 a.m. at least two days a week.

Today was one of those days. After sneaking around the apartment like a bandit--to avoid waking up R___ or the two doves we're bird-sitting (who, I'm pretty sure, were awake and watching me the whole time)--I finally made it out the door in semi-matching work-appropriate attire and with all my essential swimming gear in one bag. Now that the sun rises later in the day, on these pre-6 a.m. days I'm forced to navigate my way down three flights of stairs using my tiny cell phone screen as a flashlight.

Miraculously, amid my rushing and fumbling to get out the door, I remembered to pick up the Netflix envelop, so once I got out onto the street, I headed toward the mailbox. I was just about to slip my envelope into the slot when I saw him. Running toward me was a gigantic, glistening black man wearing nothing more than sneakers, headphones, and . . . a bright orange Speedo.

That was my first bizarre sight of the morning, but it would not be my last. No more than two blocks farther up the street, another man was standing outside a bodega, wearing a Giants jersey. As I came closer, I noticed that he appeared to be talking to someone. There was a women standing in front of him, so at first I thought he was talking to her . . . until she walked away and he was left gesturing at empty air. Maybe he's on his cell phone, I thought . Sure his hands are all over the place, but maybe he's wearing one of those earphone contraptions where you don't need any hands. Alas, as I hurried past him, I detected no cell phone. Instead, his rambling recollections of "beating that n---'s head in" and some woman who "ain't tellin' him nothin'" floated after me down the street.

I made it to the city without further incident. I swam, the sun rose, and I figured my day would now continue fairly normally: I would join the teeming hoards of people in varying degrees of work dress, hurrying to our various destinations with little regard for cars, cyclists, or other pedestrians. However, eventful morning was not quite complete. As I walked up 25th street, on my way back to the PATH train, I was passed by not three, not five, but seven children under the age of four wearing helmets and riding brightly colored scooters down the sidewalk in the opposite direction. Two or three parents trailed slowly behind. Was it Scooter-Your-Child-To-Work Day? Had I missed the ad for the New York City Child Scooter Convention? Or was this just the newest parenting fad, doomed to terrorize pedestrians and drivers everywhere until someone files a lawsuit?

The good news is that I'm getting up at about the same time tomorrow morning (this time to go running). The great news is it's a Saturday. So perhaps I'll have even more exciting sights to report after that!

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