. . . Tuesday February 3, 2009

Peeling Cucumbers on the Front Stoop

I was once walking in New York, with my friend Daniel, a few hours after getting off a plane or train from somewhere else (the only place I know other than NY). It was about 2am and we were heading out for some pierogies at Veselka. A really large guy rode past us on a weird, tiny-wheeled contraption, mumbling some 2nd Avenue song and Daniel and I looked at each other knowingly. Friggin New York. The only, the best.

I love that town and all the characters that make up its character. So there was no way, during an afternoon downtown, that I would have missed a guy in a suit selling vegetable peelers. First, he was a certainly a character – a real life infomercial. Second, there is no product I care about more than peelers. I have downed a few cucumbers a day (and now my son does the same) for the better part of three decades. Tiger golfs. Michael swims. Barack speaks. Bruce rocks. I peel.

Over the weekend, that New York character, Joe Ades died at 75.

I found out that news while reading my multiple times a day favorite blog, Kottke.org.

When I read it, the first thing I thought of was that day in lower Manhattan. It was several years ago and I was on my way to hang out with David Galbraith. Sure enough, Jason Kottke had linked to David’s take on the Ades story.

As I clicked on that link, I wondered if David (who has probably seen Ades a couple thousand times) remembered the day when I showed up at his place with a peeler. It felt good when, as I read through his post, I saw that he not only remembered it but referred to it in his own Ades recollection.

My relationship with New York is distant. My relationship with Jason and David is almost entirely virtual. And yet, this morning, I was on a stoop in New York with David, Jason, Daniel and the guy on the tiny-wheeled bike, and we were downing a few pierogies along with several freshly peeled cucumbers and talking about that guy in the suit who sold peelers on the streets downtown. And in this digital world where memories flicker out in minutes and where it’s increasingly difficult to sink your grip into anything for more than a nanosecond, it felt, in a really cool way, like home.

Concentration is important!