Look around the sidewalks of the city sometime and it seems as if everyone is carrying a coffee cup. They almost seem like fashion statements. In one hand you hold a go-cup and in the other hand your smartphone.
Actually, I need to revise that ubiquity statement because I think most bearers of the coffee go-cup aren’t yet having their doctor’s visits paid by Medicare. In other words, they’re younger.
I’m not quite sure why that is but maybe it’s because at a certain age all that caffeine keeps you up at night. Or perhaps it’s because we didn’t grow up with Starbucks on every corner and we didn’t form a habit of drinking coffee and walking. Or maybe we just need to juggle handling too much other stuff — bags, a cane, a walker. I certainly haven’t seen anyone pushing a walker holding a go-cup but I’ve seen plenty of people pushing a stroller and handling a cup of hot coffee.
Honestly, the other oddity is the fact that the people who are drinking coffee on-the-go are the same people packing big water bottles to maintain their daily hydration numbers.
But here’s where we have a problem. New York City simply doesn’t have that many readily accessible public toilets. Starbucks is helpful in that respect but then you just go in, use their bathroom and buy another cup of coffee.
You can’t make this up.
As I was riding the M104 bus yesterday afternoon going north from W. 88th and Broadway, a man got on at 91st Street lugging a pink polka dot suitcase. He found one of the coveted single seats and heaved his large frame into it. As soon as he was settled, he started ranting in a very loud voice about how Trader Joe’s was to be commended for not inflating the cost of flowers yesterday for Valentine’s Day. The rant went on for about 2 stops, so everyone on the bus could hear about their fair pricing when other merchants yesterday were gouging customers for prices. Satisfied that we’d all benefited from that intelligence, he opened the polka dot suitcase and pulled out a rubber chicken, which he waved around. “AND ISN’T THIS THE BEST RUBBER CHICKEN YOU’VE EVER SEEN,” he demanded to know at about 90 decibels.
I was initially sitting across from him but the rubber chicken prompted me to move back to the seat up the stairs, where he was no longer in my bubble of adjacent space. I then proceeded to look out the window and intently study the land use of Broadway.
Mercifully, I could pull the cord for my stop and get off, leaving him and the rubber chicken behind.
Like most of us, I fall into routines. I get up at roughly the same time every day. My breakfasts of fruit, cereal and coffee don’t differ that dramatically from one day to the next. But I’m trying a new strategy to try different routes to get to places I might routinely need to get to in Manhattan–especially on foot.
What this new approach does is to provide opportunities for constantly changing sights, sounds and experiences. It’s especially nice when these new routes have older buildings that evidence the city’s history. They’re certainly shorter. Most of them are going to be brick or stone, to have survived fires. Some of them might even have an old sign embedded in the masonry.
My new walking plan not only makes it much more fascinating to walk around but gives me a chance to reflect on New York City’s incredibly interesting history. Plus I’ve found some great new places to stop to have a coffee and a muffin on the way.
My next goal: Changing breakfasts!
Yesterday, I went to a terrific show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art called “Jewelry: The Body Transformed.” The exhibit has a stunning collection from Ancient times to the present of all sorts of headdresses, earrings and ear “ornaments,” pins, necklaces, rings and belts. It’s pretty amazing to explore how jewelry has been used to adorn the body, convey power, signal the divine, appease the gods, create surprise or even shock others.
It does get you wondering whether jewelry can be designed to reduce the aging process. Or maybe it has already been designed with some of those jewel-encrusted masks on display.
The show is on until February 24, if you want to check it out.