baby, it’s hot outside
God how I love jet lag. I mean it. Those last moments living with one foot in and one foot out, the body neither here nor there. Up at 5 30 this morning for my speed walk. Striding along deserted streets in a city that has yet to shrug off the stupor of sleep. A city that I never see. Homeless sprawled on the grass at Union Square, garbage, plastic bags, Starbucks cups and bits of paper everywhere. Silence. Forty five minutes later, the city begins to shake itself awake. I see building supers hosing down the sidewalks, guys in uniforms stabbing at litter with one pronged spears, more uniforms raising corporate flags (no saluting, thank heavens) and suits out walking their dogs. The real revelation, however? The armies of PT’s. Personal trainers taking their skinny, sweat suited, power hungry women through their paces.
“Give me thirty seconds of tripecs!” shouts a stunning, boldly muscled, black guy. He’s holding a pink pastel yoga mat.
How gruesomely exhausted they already look, these female soldiers of business, goose stepping up and down beneath a statue of William Seward. He’s the guy who bought Alaska and I shiver at the thought of so much cold. This with the temperature hovering near 90 degrees. I think of flying over a white Greenland. Checking my map on the screen in front of my seat after crossing the North Atlantic. It reassures me, somehow. Knowing we’ve left that vast expanse of sea behind. Then I look up and wonder about those mysterious nude figures perched on the ledges of nearby skyscrapers. People called 911 when they first appeared. The statues looked like jumpers ready to dive straight into traffic choked Broadway and lower Fifth Avenue. A comment on life in the naked city, perhaps. Now, we barely notice them.
As I dash for shade from the sun the same way I run for shelter from the rain, I see a bare chested Mo. My favorite 74-year-old antique dealer. Fists up, he’s in his pyjama bottoms, punching away at some invisible opponent and bouncing around on the balls of his feet.
“I like the velvet throne,” I say. He’s dragged it outside from the store.
“17th century,” he says, ducking and dodging another imaginary blow. “It’s made for sidewalk sitting.”
“Please don’t tell me there’s no AC in there, ” I add, pointing to the dark recesses of the store where he sleeps behind me.
“Nope,” he says. No AC.”
“How do you stand it,” I ask.
“I ignore it,” he says, scratching his beard. “Just like I ignore the fact I’m broke.”
“No clients, huh?”
“Not even a hope, Brenda. And all my stuff up there in the fortress in Troy. It’s drivin me nuts. I’m gonna lose my touch. I want it around me, you know. I miss it.”
I do know. For Mo, this priceless collection of medieval and Renaissance furniture is like family. Which partially explains why he is broke. Even in the good times, Mo has problems selling. To sell the stuff off cheap would be akin to a father abandoning his own children.
“Why don’t you give me the key and I’ll feed the cats? You can take the train up.”
“Nah,” he says, shielding his face with one hand while smashing in with a right. “It’s too fuckin far. But I can’t lose my focus. Cuz that’s when trouble comes.”
“Mo, you’re a fighter. You were born a fighter. That’s why I love you.”
“Yeah. Well, fighters gotta to be willin to bleed, to take the blows,” he says. “That’s why I’m worried about A.”(A. is his beautiful, younger Austrian wife.) She’s a fighter, too. But she doesn’t like to bleed.”
“I’ll take her out tomorrow for a drink, Mo. Cheer her up, OK?”
“Would ya. Really? The anxiety’s killin her.”
“Sure. Tell her 6 30. I’ll pick her up.”
You gotta be willin to bleed, to take the blows, Mo says. And he’s so right, I think while flashing back to the army of PA’s preparing their female soldiers for another day on the corporate battlefield. I’m willing to bleed and take the blows, too. But I’m tired and I wonder how the hell he does it, at 74 years-old?
For more on Mo, click here. and scroll down.