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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

"Riding"


In college, my friend Candid Yam and I used to frequent the Plaza Diner, so named because it was located in New Paltz Plaza. There was only one shopping mall at the time in the whole town.

We befriended this waitress, an older woman, probably younger than I am now. We discovered that she was a singer with the Sweet Adelines. It's "barbershop quartet" singing by women.

CY and I decided to see her perform in Manhattan. Hitchhiking from New Paltz to NYC was easy in 1976. CY was going to be in Florida for spring break, but would meet me there.

I saw the performances, which were entertaining enough. And I even got to hang out with our waitress friend and her colleagues for a time. But no CY.

Here's the deal: I didn't have enough money to get home, as I was expecting to ride back with CY. I didn't own a credit card at the time, and I was too proud to ask my waitress friend for a loan.

Hitchhiking from midtown Manhattan to New Paltz in the middle of the night was impossible. (I must not even have had subway money, for if I had, I'd have taken the subway uptown, to the northernmost point -I think it's the 4 train.)

So now it's 1:30 in the morning and I'm walking around 42nd Street and 8th Avenue, when this waif of a young woman says to me. "Wanna go for a ride?"
I said, "Beg your pardon?"
She scurries into the subway entrance she's standing in front of.

But over the next few blocks, the women I ran into weren't so shy at all, offering me...well, all sorts of things. This was Times Square before the cleanup, before the Disneyfication.

Of course, I wasn't interested, but even if I were (and I wasn't - I think I mentioned that), I ddn't even have money to go home, let alone to go off with one of these ladies.

I crossed the George Washington Bridge. If you ever find yourself walking across the narrow walkway of the GW, please note that there were, at least at the time, gaps in the path, not big enough to fall to one's death, but large enough to get one's foot caught in the many gaping holes. It was a tedious and nervewracking part of the trip.

Finally, I get across, and now I'm in New Jersey, and I eventually hitchhike home, but it's an indirect route and the trip took about 7 hours, including the walking, compared with the hour and a half to get there. CY was delayed on the way back from Florida, and now I have at least a credit card that would avoid a similar situation.

The date I got home was 30 years ago today. I didn't remember that, but rather figured it out, for what I DID recall was that it was the night the clocks changed to Daylight Saving Time, which, in those days, was the last Sunday in April.

What reminded me of this was that that last month, I had taught a class on Marketing Resources in Schenectady, the neighboring city to Albany. I went out to State Street (Route 5) around 9 p.m. to wait for the #55 bus that would take me back home. I could see that the bus was about four blocks away. This young woman in her car motions to me. I thought that perhaps she was seeking directions. Instead, she asked me, "Do you ride?" Not "Do you want a ride?" but the very peculiar phraseology "Do you ride?" Had it not been for the previous experience, I'm not sure that I would have understood her intent, but as it was, I said, "No thanks, my bus is coming."

So every three decades or so, I get to run into women of a certain profession. At this rate, I should hit on again in February 2036.

1 comment:

lynn said...

Oh Gawd ... Here it is 30 years after the fact, and I still feel bad about not having met you! I can't even remember why I got delayed in Florida, but I sure hope I had a good excuse!!! CY