I got off the 2 train at 14th Street a little before 5:00 on Sunday, and I couldn’t get out. The turnstiles were jammed with people trying to get in. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.
I looked around, spotted the largest person, and followed him out, as you instinctively do in a barroom brawl when the tide turns against you.
7th Ave was clogged on and off the sidewalk, and everybody was at least boisterous, horns honking, people declaiming at decibel levels hitherto unheard, except maybe on the subway platform or on Friday nights on 16th Street. Again, WTF?
Ah, the Gay Pride Parade, but I thought it was over by now. These are stragglers, latecomers, tourists, it’s over, of course it is.
I set out with my girlfriend from her apartment near 8th Ave, on our way to Club Monaco to buy me some attire suitable for summer. We’re headed to 5th Ave and 21st Street. It’s 5:15.
As we approach 5th Ave on 17th Street, it’s pretty clear the parade is still going on. Once again, WTF? How is this possible? Turn back or swim upstream, against the current of the crowd? We decide to test the waters.
We do, and it’s delightful. Swimming upstream was never more fun. And maybe, like those salmon . . . Try to imagine a mash-up of Roman bacchanal, medieval carnival (think Bakhtin), Mardi Gras, disco inferno, and happy hour at the local bar. You’ve captured the mood, you’re there.
Everybody’s dancing, smiling, giggling, waving. The music is deafening, no, it’s penetrating, it makes my bones quiver, it makes me want to dance and sing, and so I do, I don’t care what anybody thinks, I’m carried away by the perfect delusion of this moment.
I buy some pants, some shorts, we head west across 21st Street, and then we stop and kiss on the sidewalk, both of us intoxicated by the sound of liberation. Her lipstick is smeared, my soul is unmoored, I am so in love that I’m levitating. I lose my balance, I have to yank us back into this world, this time, this place.
But it’s still warm and inviting. Like another planet.