Today I tied a pink bow around Pooch's neck. Suddenly people in the Easter Parade on Fifth Avenue were calling him a her. Boys can wear pink too, I said, just look at the man in drag over there. I pointed. That's way more than pink. The man stood six feet plus in platforms, and wore fishnet stockings, a bustier, thick fake eyelashes, and a fluorescent pink wig. Others had also gone overboard. In front of St. Patrick's Cathedral, a woman posed while balancing on her head an elaborate seven foot headress made of sprays of violets, lilacs, and blue flowers whose species has not yet evolved. There were little girls with angelic golden curls beneath bonnets decorated with green grass, pink and yellow baskets, and chocolate Easter eggs. A man wearing a top hat and tails accompanied a woman in an elegant green satin 1940s dress. She struck a pose in a broad brimmed hat covered with a froth of toile and multicolored flowers.
And of course there were the dogs. There was a pooch in a top hat with coat and tails (note: the average, every day pooch is lower case in this blog). There was a golden retriever in a pink skirt and pink bunny ears. There was one of those yippy little runts of dogs (I can't keep their names in mind, there's probably a psychological term for it), dressed in a tutu with a pink ribbon. Three little girls in Easter frocks stood round, oohing and aahing. Everyone loves a well dressed pooch.
The Upper Case Pooch and I paraded from St. Pat's to The Plaza. The day had turned warm and humid. The sky was clear blue for once, and Central Park was irresistible. Days of rain had turned the grass electric green. The trees had burst into pink blossom, and the tulips stood with perfect posture, awaiting admiration. The Easter Parade had spilled along the path leading to the zoo, where people rested on park benches and forgot to remove their bunny ears.
It seemed like all of the greater metropolitan New York area had converged on Manhattan. There were crowds at the carousel, where I stopped to buy refreshments. Most people were happy today, but there's always a few curmudgeons in a crowd. The hot dog man said, what can I get you. I tried to say, "Diii-et CCo" but was interrupted by a man with a European accent, barging in front of me and ordering water. The hot dog man, unfazed, pulled out the Diet Coke, slammed it down hard to make his point and said, Diet Coke for you, and then pulled out the water for the SOB. It was a small triumph for me, and even though the hot dog man inflated the cost ($3!), I take small triumphs when I can get them. I sauntered away, flamboyantly opening my Diet Coke while the European man argued with the hot dog man over the price of water.
Pooch and I found a bench near the road that on weekdays rings the park in a necklace of exhaust (it's closed to car traffic on Sundays; that's when it becomes a necklace of weekend warriors). As I fed him popcorn, a pedicab rolled by blasting "Empire State of Mind" by Alicia Keys: Noise is always loud, there are sirens all around, and the streets are mean... Concrete jungle where dreams are made of... There's nothing you can't do...Now you're in New York... These streets will make you feel brand new...Big lights will inspire you...Let's hear it for New York, New York, New Yooooork!
It's days like these that erase the occasional discouragement a New Yorker feels. The hot dog seller who doesn't need to, but is kind in his own manner. The drag queens in the Easter Parade, and other New Yorkers (though not all-- there is an entrenched stodgy component to this city) who have the guts to be noncomformist. And the blue sky that defines the color and occasionally makes an appearance.