Monday, October 03, 2005

Drive-By Haberdashery

I AM WORN OUT. I successfully got my ass to the gym in the morning, about 5:30 or so, and did about an hour there before work. Oh, it was bliss. The temptation existed to call in sick and spend another hour there. But I cut it off at 30 on the aerobic gadget and 30 at the shoulder machines. It was still a victory to get out there at that time. The first time is the roughest when trying to switch schedules on my gym routine. If I can grab a decent amount of shuteye tonight, I should hit the mark again tomorrow. Then, I just do that 2,000 times more, and for a follow-up, drop dead.

I want to share an incident from last Thursday. Seems like it was an eventful week for all of the crazy nasal suffering I endured. I decided to eat a hearty lunch that day, because I knew I would be giving dinner short shrift in favor of prepping the apartment for poker night. So I started out for the diner a block away, on 7th Ave. You can get a reliable grilled cheese sandwich or matzoh ball soup there, or both if your tolerance for cholesterol is good. I was leaning toward one of these, or perhaps a nice French toast and bacon. Why should hobbits be the only ones who have second breakfast?

So I'm pacing along — and here a word on my walk. Rotund though I may be, I am a fast walker. Nimble, too, from 6 years of ducking through Manhattan foot traffic. But more than anything, fast. When from point A I spy point B, I am halfway there before you hear me saying, "I'm on my way." If Jerry Seinfeld had to categorize me, I would be dubbed a "darter." I walk like an assassin ten paces from his victim.

So I'm darting down a cool midday Chelsea street, streaking past brownstones and basement-level shops, when a man called out to me. I looked up and saw a shaven-headed guy, no older than early thirties, at the wheel of a dark blue van. He waved me over. From the curbside — no closer — I asked what he wanted.

He made it clear that he was looking for directions to the Lincoln Tunnel. Easy enough. I directed him up the street a bit to the nearest uptown thoroughfare and told him to look for signs to head west around the mid-30s. He thanked me, and I turned to go.

"Sir — Sir!" he called out again. I turned back, and he said, "I work in fashion. I work in Javits Center." This seemed odd. If you actually work at the Jacob Javits Convention Center, you know that you are within walking distance of the Lincoln Tunnel. "I leave New York tonight" — he mimed a plane taking off — "I have Armani suits. . . . "

The upshot seemed to be that he was in town with some sort of trade show, or fashion show, and he had some spare suits to get rid of before he flew back home, and that he wanted to show me them in the hopes of selling them to me. I've never been drive-by haberdashed before. It was certainly very kind to be fitted out for new clothes on the fly like this. But at that moment, I wanted nothing more than a platter of diner grease and a cuppa caffeine.

So I overcame my natural aversion to saying "no" in a direct, conversation-ending way and apologetically said I wasn't really interested, but thanks for the offer.

The enterprising Continental pressed the issue. It must come from being in the rag trade. He said he had a suit in my size (hah — I'm not exactly Big Chief Off-The-Rack), and that he had to get rid of them before he flew home, and the whole spiel again from the top. In his accent, I half-expected him to follow up with, "For your fadder — for your fadder," like Enzo the baker's son in The Godfather outside the hospital with Michael.

So what could I do? I said, "I'm sorry, I'm on lunch, and I am not interested, but thanks."

This convinced him, and, wordlessly and with an expression of mild annoyance, he turned back to the wheel and gunned the van away . . . possibly to the Tunnel, possibly to another ill-tailored, high-velocity fat man.


Trish said...

Ha ha ha! Awesome. This story cracked me up.

Schizohedron said...

Thanks! I made the same walk again this week. I half-expected to run into the guy and be offered a Burberry raincoat or perhaps some duck shoes, what with the precipitation we're gonna get.