I work in midtown Manhattan. Have for nearly a decade and a half now.
The thing about spending time in this city, or any big city for that matter, is that if you wait long enough you'll periodically witness things that will leave you gasping in horror, blinking in disbelief or weeping with joy.
It's Science. Law of Averages or somesuch.
Now you're going to think I'm lying to you. Or exaggerating for comic effect. But all I can tell you is that what follows is absolutely true. I swear.
Miracles are real, people, and I am here to testify.
It was on a lovely spring day a few years ago when I bore witness to perhaps the most astonishing sight these eyes have yet beheld on this good Earth.
Are you feeling inspired yet? Well, you're gonna be. Because this story is inspirational as balls.
Having found a warm patch of sun and some prime leaning space outside a Greenwich Village drinkery, I'd just settled in to wait for a friend to join me. Between the spectacular weather and the prospect of the afternoon/evening of convivial tippling that lay ahead, I was feeling swell.
All was right with the world. Things just couldn't get better.
And then things got better.
A LOT better.
For just then, a surly young man came rolling sullenly down St. Mark's Place on a skateboard.
And he was about to bring me my miracle. He just didn't know it.
Now, it should be pointed out that he wasn't so much a "human being" as a "living collage, composed entirely of affectations." Lank, unwashed (yet carefully tousled) hair ... handlebar mustache ... chunky, six-foot wallet chain ... comically enormous headphones ... half-dozen facial piercings ... sleeve tats ... and, of course, the uber-slouchy, waaay-too-cool-for-any-of-this attitude.
He was the whole package.
In fact he was a pastiche of several packages. A curious hybrid, actually.
If you crammed a Hipster, a Goth and a Skate Punk all into a shower together and blasted them with a high-pressure hose, this kid is what you'd be picking out of the drain afterward.
Not that I have anything against any of those groups. It is unquestionably awesome when kindred spirits find one another. Joining the tribe that you feel most comfortable with is a beautiful thing. I've been a geek and an outsider my entire life and I certainly don't begrudge anyone their rightful peer group.
That said, I generally find poseurs dickishly irritating. Regardless of what colors they happen to be flying.
And this kid was posing.
I'll be honest, I found him kind of amazing. How could a person be riding a skateboard and not be enjoying it? Answer: They couldn't. It's not possible. Because riding a skateboard is inherently awesome.
And yet somehow this young man had found a way to make the whole ordeal eye-rollingly mundane for himself. "Whatevs," he might have groan-sighed, had he been able to scrape together enough of a shit to bother. But he didn't, because he couldn't. He had no shits to give.
He was so totally over it. Over everything. Over everyone. The rest of us had exhausted and disgusted him so utterly that he barely had the energy to curl his lip to sneer at the stench of our lameness.
He was the physical embodiment of an exhausted sigh. A miracle of science, really. Worthy of study.
And just as he slouch-rolled past me, that's when my miracle happened.
Before that day I wasn't much of a believer in magic. But that changed in a blink.
For at that moment, as I watched him -- as though I'd willed it with the power of my mind -- his giant, over-sized pants suddenly lost their battle with gravity and relinquished their tenuous grip on his skinny, disaffected hips! They plunged earthward, and immediately balled up under the wheels of his skateboard ... stopping it dead and launching him out of his pants!
Hang on. Let me just repeat that in case you missed it:
It was as though he'd been blasted out of some sort of wondrous Pants Cannon.
A magical, perfectly-timed Cirque de Soleil-caliber feat of impossible acrobatics conjured by The Universe itself solely for my benefit.
And in that moment I knew what it was to know true beauty. To gaze upon the face of God.
And I thanked The Universe. Thanked it from the bottom of my bitter, bitter little husk of a heart.
Told you. As balls.
Now, as you might imagine, it's extraordinarily difficult to salvage any dignity, much less keep up an attitude of extreme, sullen superiority once you've tumbled across the pavement like a pantless stone skipping across a pond in your sock-feet and boxers.
(Oh, didn't I mention? He also lost his shoes in the incident. Have I told you lately how much you rock, The Universe? Well, it's a lot.)
But that didn't stop him from trying. Unhurt but for his pride, he shuffled back to collect his pants, his shoes, his skateboard and the shattered remains of his phone. Trying desperately not to break character ... and failing utterly.
"Yeah, whatevs, Angular Momentum," he might have squeaked unconvincingly at The Universe, his lip quivering. "So not impressed."
His arms overloaded with the disparate pieces of his identity, he shuffled to the sidewalk.
And yes, he was also launched out of his dog. Probably.
Slowly he set to putting himself back together, piece by piece. A knight strapping his armor back on.
(You know ... if that knight had been blasted hilariously and spectacularly out of his pants. Come ON, The Universe! You seriously rock so goddamn HARD!)
But despite the fact that he was now fully dressed, he still seemed a little naked. Because the one thing he couldn't put back on was his pissy attitude. That had smashed to dust on the pavement. In an instant, his sense of smug superiority had been pulverized. Like the rest of us, he was now exactly the proper amount of cool for this particular school.
His belt now cinched tightly around his waist and his board tucked firmly under one arm -- neither was getting the chance to betray him again that day -- he stepped gingerly on down the street, resuming his journey on foot.
Yes, I saw a miracle that day.
I bore witness to a Pants Cannon fulfilling its divine purpose.
And it was glorious.
I heart you, New York. I heart you a lot.
Till next we meet ...