Monday, April 19, 2010


It’s after 5:00am in Manhattan and my 25th birthday celebration is finally winding down. I pour out of a cab with three other friends. We’re on our way home from karaoke, still slurring the chorus to “Sweet Caroline.” A few steps away from the front door of my West Village apartment, I almost bump into a transvestite hooker.

He’s trotting down the sidewalk in front of my stoop in stilettos, a purple mini-dress and Diana Ross wig. He could be a linebacker for the Jets. I offer a nervous smile. He ignores me and tosses his hair as he walks toward his shorter colleague, a Barney Rubble in heels, who’s leaned up against a bike rack.

I live a few streets south of the city’s meat-packing district, an area that now buzzes with trendy bars and restaurants but once served as a hub for drug dealing and prostitution in the Eighties. In the day light, the sidewalks are stuffed with nannies pushing strollers and other generally clean-cut residents who can afford rent in the Village. Much later, if the weather is warm enough, these cross-dressing “sex workers” return to their stomping grounds.

Diana Ross and Barney Rubble may seem out of place on my stoop, but they’re not.

This is New York City and two things are certain: Nobody belongs and nobody is out of place.

Before bumping into the prostitute and belting out three hours of karaoke that evening, I had joined 14 of my friends for a birthday dinner. Hours before the meal, I was anxious. It was my first attempt to meld several different groups of friends I had made since moving to New York City two years ago. Very few of the invitees knew each other. I worried about the group dynamic.

Seated around one large table at a local pizza joint, I began making introductions. Coworker meet roommate, meet new friend etc. A half dozen bottles of wine later, we were one big happy heterogeneous family. A few pitchers of beer later, we were linked arm in arm singing “Tiny Dancer.”

In fairness, this group was destined to mesh well. They all had me, age range and, as my friends, an above average level of “coolness” in common.

Still, I wonder if any other city could bring different backgrounds and personalities together quite like the Big Apple.

Sitting on a park bench the morning after my birthday party, nursing a karaoke hangover, the city reminded me yet again of its seamless diversity. Inspecting the crowds of people passing through I had trouble finding two groups that looked similar. In fact the four benches across from me were stuffed with at least six different ethnicities. I overheard three different languages.

Regardless of our differences, in that instance we’re all the same: New Yorkers enjoying a Sunday afternoon in the park.

1 comment:

  1. I love this post, this night, and even these "ladies" you mention (which i very vaguely remember you pointing out on saturday). Barney Rubble? Hilarious.