The city needs braces.
If you gaze at the Manhattan skyline you’ll see for yourself exactly what I mean. The buildings crowd and they stack and they extend themselves out like they are desperately reaching for the remote control on the other side of the couch. They do whatever they can to be seen. If you stare at any cluster of miss-matched buildings for long enough, you will become privy to think that they are starting to stare back at you, with one of most crooked smiles that you’ve ever seen.
This is what I think about on Saturday mornings when I run circles around the East River. My sleepy toes hit the pavement to the beat of my huffs and my puffs. I’ve never liked running, but I can’t afford a gym membership and I pay enough money in city taxes that I might as well explore the places I’m allowed to roam around for free.
I invent games in my mind when I run so that I don’t focus on my shortness of breath or the cramps in my thighs telling me enough is enough, it’s time for a bagel and lox. One of my favorite games that I play is called ‘Contagious Smile’. When someone is running toward me, I wipe the saliva falling from my paisley shaped mouth and show them my pearly white teeth, so wide that the edges of my cheekbone slap my cornea. Most runners either don’t pay any attention to me, too caught up in whatever voices are being pumped from their MP3 player into their ears, or they think I’m just another bizarre human wondering around the East River during the wee hours of the morning.
Last week, a lady bundled up in faux fur, hiding behind the lens of her Cannon camera did something that I never expected. When I was sprinting toward her, my hair in a jumbled side ponytail and my knee socks unevenly drooping down my legs, she looked at me in my tea cup eyes and she smiled at me first.
How about that! She beat me at my very own game. And as I sped past her, looking at her with such awe and excitement, as a teenager would look at Justin Bieber with, she screamed behind me, “You look great out there, don’t change a thing.”
And I’ll never know if she was talking to the Manhattan skyline, or, if perhaps she was talking to me.