I can’t make this shit up. Who could? In New York at this time of year, every corner is a good spot to sell Christmas trees. It’s hard not to buy one. Last Wednesday, I was walking down Broadway to the 96th Street station, having eaten some excellent Mexican food at 104th with a friend whose life is about to change because his new book is going to change everything we think about, well, everything, and I noticed a guy with a yarmulke haggling with the proprietor of a makeshift Christmas tree business at 98th.
What is he thinking, I asked myself, and I had both of them in mind. You’re an Orthodox Jew and you’re buying a Christmas tree, and/or You’re bargaining with a man who doesn’t celebrate the holiday this tree represents? The negotiation was pretty clearly fun for both of them, this being New York, so I just laughed.
Still, I thought about what I had seen the day before, walking west on the 124 between Lexington and 5th Ave, a desolate stretch, a lot of addicts, a lot of silence, until you get to Marcus Garvey Park, where I noticed a tired old guy pulling a huge Christmas tree down the street. My first impulse was to say “Hey, you need some help?”
Then I realized he was stealing the tree. So did the proprietor. She came tearing around the corner of 5th and 124th, and she was pissed, she said, “You stupid old mothafucker, I’m a kill you right now, what the fuck is the matter wit you, you try to steal a fucking Christmas tree, why’nt you steal shit from yo children, you stupid old mothafucker, I’m a kill you now.” The tired old guy turned and walked away.
This being New York, I just laughed. I didn’t offer to help her.