Wednesday, November 16, 2011
A Different Approach
Pam snapped this picture for me as we stood on the corner of Madison and 59th, looking up at the second floor of the GM building. It wasn't quite 8 a.m., but the guy you can dimly see under all those big notes was bouncing rhythmically up and down, gliding back and forth. I asked myself who dances alone in an office building before breakfast?
Then I realized that if you go around the block to the opposite corner of that building, you're at the entrance to F.A.O. Schwartz, the toy fantasia. It was closed of course, but if we could have gotten in, gone up the escalator to the second floor and worked our way back to the far corner, we'd have gotten a much better photo of our dancer.
He was in the room where they keep the Big Piano that Tom Hanks made famous in the movie "Big." The black and white keys are laid out on the floor, and you play the instrument by stepping on it. If you want to play it well, you have to dance.
Mystery solved, but it wasn't much of a mystery. We were in that room a couple of weeks ago with our granddaughter and stood in line for a short turn on the big keys ourselves. We couldn't even manage chopsticks, but we saw a demonstration by a pair of F.A.O. Schwartzers who played several dazzling duets without missing a note or running into each other. Maybe the guy above was auditioning for one of those jobs.
But whatever he was doing, I enjoyed spotting him because it reminded me that one of the unique pleasures the city offers is the sensation you get from stumbling on a familiar place from an unfamiliar direction.
I return a rental car on East 43rd and realize I'm outside the office of a lawyer I usually traveled to from work. I ride my bike up Hudson Street and find myself sailing past the Cowgirl Museum, which I walked to a couple of times from the 1 train. I come off the East River bike trail heading west toward 1st Avenue, and I'm outside our pediatrician's office which I normally approach heading east.
For a nanosecond, it feels like these places must have moved, maybe by magic, or a tectonic shift, or special relativity. I think to myself how I love this town. Then somebody behind me honks their horn, because it doesn't love me back.