Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Strangers on a Train and Celebrities at Lunch

Yesterday I took the train to the Upper West Side to visit my friend Anna. I used to know Anna in Dayton when she danced with the Dayton Ballet. Now she is married to a wonderful guy and dances for the Met Opera.

It’s a longish train trip, so I looked forward to the uninterrupted reading time. I got a seat right away and settled in. Two, three stops went by—all was peaceful. Then, a crazy man got on. Anyone who’s ever been to NY knows what I mean. Crazy for real. Unstable, LOUD, and frenetic. It struck me: I’m so over them. When I first arrived, I sort of delighted in the stories they provided. Found them this cool part of “NY life.” Whatever. Now I was just irritated at having my reading disrupted. He was so loud, alternately preaching, then ranting about the feminist movement, delivering racial slurs, then returning to shouting about the son of God. He was so annoying, I thought about getting off the train and waiting for the next, but I didn’t.

When I transferred to the 1, a lovely mariachi band was playing in my car. Although it didn’t allow for reading, either (but I only had one stop on the1), it was much more pleasant.

Getting out in Anna’s neighborhood, I found myself climbing the subway stairs behind a woman in a padded burgundy parka with boots I liked. Her boots actually reminded me of the boots Anna bought when Anna and I shopped together here last fall. I also liked this woman’s hat and I thought I needed to buy a better hat. My warmest hat is my running hat, just a utilitarian wool hat that doesn’t really match anything else. I’ve been wearing it anyway because it’s s-s-so c-c-cold here in the wind lately. So I followed this woman a block, admiring her boots and her hat and noting how fast she walked. She dashed across the street at the tail end of a light and I lost her.

At Anna’s apartment, it took her longer than usual to answer the buzzer. I worried that she might be out walking Nellie, but finally, just as I was thinking maybe I’d wander around the block and try again, she buzzed me in.

She was standing at her door, still in her parka and scarf. I had a sensation of deja vu, but laughed as she said, “I just got back. I was worried you’d beat me,” and thought I was right—she’d been out walking Nellie.

I told her about the crazy guy on my train. She said, “My ride was more pleasant. I had a mariachi band on mine.”

I blinked. “Wait. Why were you on a train?”

“I took class this morning at Lincoln Center.”

“So you were on the 1?”

She nodded. “I actually thought we might be on the same train. I was so afraid you’d get here before me.”

I took in her burgundy parka. Her boots. Her scarf, which matched the cute hat that a quick scan revealed poking out of her bag. I burst out laughing. “I followed you off the subway! I thought your boots were cool.”

“You better think they’re cool. You’re the one who convinced me to buy them!”

Too funny that I hadn’t put it all together, but it proved to me how we see what we expect to see and often not much more. I hadn’t expected to see Anna on the train, so I didn’t see something obvious literally right in front of me.

We had a great day and went to lunch at a wonderful restaurant called Good Enough to Eat. The food was great, the latte delicious, and the coconut cake sublime. You can buy all kinds of clothing articles for all ages that say “Good enough to eat”…including underwear, which we both thought was a little much. Guess who was at the very next table? (And VERY close in typical NY fashion). Kyra Sedgwich and Kevin Bacon. My very first celebrity spotting since moving here (except for Maggie Gyllenhaal and Peter Sarsgaard, who live across the street from me!). Kyra Sedgwick looked absolutely beautiful. I’ve always really liked them—they’ve been married 20 years, which is not just a Hollywood rarity, but, sadly, a rarity in any case these days. At a recent awards show, I saw them questioned about their secret, and Kevin Bacon said, “Keep the fights clean and the sex dirty.” Hmm. Well. I can tell you they seemed happy and talked like two people who genuinely love each others’ company.

At one point, Anna went to the unisex bathroom and Kevin Bacon tried to open the door on her! He was standing in the narrow hallway waiting as she exited. We laughed about that later—if you get walked in on in the bathroom by Kevin Bacon, that’s 0 degrees of separation for sure!

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