The Answer My Friend, Is Blowin’ In The Wind
I was living and working in New York City as a line cook at a Midtown restaurant. It was a hot summer night an after busting my ass all night I was ready to get fired up at a happening club on the lower east side around the corner from CGBG’s. All night long I had been slicing, dicing, chopping, sautéing and frying while engaging in screaming matches with the expeditor who being French had the advantage of cursing me out with words I didn’t understand. I was some sort of “petty rast decayed-a-rrrrayso contingawn de merrrda” or some weird shit with cool “R” tongue rolls which a co-worker tells me means I am a sort of gay syphilis encrusted piece of shit. Those French, so descriptive, gotta love em for making insults sound so nice.. To be honest his French words flowed so sweetly to me like he was yelling “you sweet American hunk of a man your chopped onions could make a French women cry,” but it is what it is. Anyway, I was tired and ready to get amped up and find a lover that won’t drive me crazy. Unless of course that lover drives me crazy in bed.
At any rate, I left the 43rd street restaurant and since I didn’t make a ton of money slinging sauté pans for a living I chose to travel by foot. Besides, it was a nice summer night and I had some time to kill with not much happening in the city till around midnight. I walked the way most New Yorkers do, transverseing the streets. That is to say we walk in the path of least resistance negotiating the traffic. When cars prevent me from continuing south I head east a block or two until its clear again. This oddly normal way of walking led me directly into the path of Herald Square, a tiny little park where 6thAve and Broadway converge around 34th street. Herald Square is more of a triangle (an obtuse one for you math nerds) and I was prepared to go through this small triangular park when something caught me eye. Underneath the unoccupied benches played a bastion of rats all running and jumping right out there in the open, not afraid of a thing. At first the hippie in me thought “How cute, little rodents playing red rover or something” until a jolt of restaurant reality hit me. Rats are mortal enemies of both mice and men, especially when they choose to dine in the restaurant you work in.
That said, I decided I would ignore their usual enemy combatant status and indulge in a little herbal enhancement. This way I could amuse myself by watching them play for a little while. They just seemed like they were having so much fun and like I said, time to kill. Looking around like I was casing the street for a robbery attempt I carefully scanned the area for any blue suited “peoples friend” law enforcement officers who for whatever reason believed catching someone committing the heinous crime of getting high was keeping the rest of the world safe. The last thing the world should fear is a mellow stoned hippie and this weed was so good I would be stoned and mellow just lighting up. Not seeing any cops around I fired up a joint and enjoyed the Big Apple Rat Circus for a few minutes. They were quite agile, jumping over each other in games of leap-rat, or tag, or whatever rat games they play. I thought I may have even seen a few of them smiling, but like I said, it was primo weed. After I had taken three hits my memory bank played a rather unnecessary trick on me and withdrew the memory of the movie “Willard” which caused a shiver to reverberate from my prized Frye boots up to my red, white, and blue bandana. Suddenly the playful little rats once again became the ruthless menaces attempting to take over Manhattan one sewer at a time that I knew they were. Freaked out a tad and effected with PTSD (Pot Tokers Stress Disorder) I chose to walk the long way around Herald Square.
Around the park and on to the far side of 6th avenue I ventured avoiding those nasty disease carrying bastards. Now the memory of their game playing freaked me out, but what a gorgeous evening it was. Perfect summer weather, people out and about everywhere, and with the ratscapades now forgotten I put a big smile on my face as I continued on my journey to the hip new club. Up ahead about a city block away I saw something moving in the center of the sidewalk but couldn’t make out exactly what it was. As I got closer it became apparent that it was a sick animal and it may even be a rat. My stoned memory bank was still open so I made another withdrawal this time from much further back. Many years ago when I lived with my parents on Long Island I came home drunk one night only to find a rabid raccoon hissing and threatening me as I tried to sneak in the back door. Frightened and high I was not about to engage in battle with this masked bandit of a rodent that was foaming at the mouth. Begrudgingly I had to knock on the front door and wake my parents up because, well because the fucking thing was rabid! So I was busted for coming home not only late, but three, maybe even four or five sheets to the wind whatever the hell that means.
I digress, suffice is to say the memory of a very sick and dangerous Rocky Raccoon hissing and trying to scratch my eyes out or kill me weighed heavy on my mind as I sized up the sick animal ahead. I was convinced now that directly in my path ahead it was a rabid rat looking for something to attack. The moment of truth was approaching.
Time to summon up some composure. I looked around quick and there were a number of people on the East side of 6th avenue strolling casually totally unaware I was about to be confronted by this sick menace. I reckon I could have just crossed the street and warn people of the dangerous vermin but I didn’t want to look like a wuss. I’m not a whiney suburban boy anymore, I’m living and working in the big city. I am a New Yorker now God dammit and we fear nothing! I took a deep breath and headed straight towards the viscous killer preparing to kick that little fucker all the way across the sidewalk . I was fully aware of the other people around milling about and I was certain most of them could see me. Not willing to have them think I am anything less a fearless New Yorker I forged ahead ready willing and able to defend myself from King Rabid Rat. The very second he was at my feet a slight wind picked up as I reached my right foot back ready to put the full weight of my Frye boot into this sick rodents body it lunged at me. With full force I unleashed a Bruce Lee style kick and made a direct hit. Unfortunately as I looked down to watch the rat fly across the pavement I realized I had just kicked the shit out of a plastic bag that was blowing in an updraft from the subway grate. Oh yea, I put everything I had into kicking that bag and it made an obscenely loud whoosh which I was certain had caught the ear eye and attention of everyone within a three or four block radius.
Being a New Yorker now of course I had to save face. I had nearly lost my balance so I used that to my advantage and spun around, jumped up and did a two and a half spin, came down snapping my finger giving two arm twirls, did an about face move right into a strut/walk the rest of the way down the block repeating “We bad, we bad” like Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder.
I had done my best to save myself from a potentially embarrassing situation yet I heard some chuckles in the distance. When I think back I gotta admit it must have looked funny as Hell. Thing is, I’m not sure if they were laughing at the ridiculous attempt at a dance move from a stoned hippie, a stoned hippie freak on his way to Bellevue for a psychiatric assessment, or the fact that some stoned hippie just got busted for kicking the shit out of a defenseless plastic bag.