You might remember this incident where a rather disgruntled pigeon decided to enhance my casual Saturday morning look, or maybe the time I was used as a human seat belt on the subway. And while overall my experiences with this city are positive and exciting and worthwhile, there are those other days where it not only kicks my butt but it knocks me over, sits on my back, and laughs as I shriek “Uncle!” over and over again to no avail. So I am still not quite certain why I feel so surprised that I was laid low not once, but TWICE last week. And I am talking looooooowwwwwww.
On Tuesday I was feeling very prancy. You know the days when your hair behaves, your dress looks fetching, your skin is clear, you feel refreshed and Things. Just. Work. Well, that was Tuesday for me as I went whistling on my way. There was light traffic on the subway that morning and as I skipped off of the train at my designated stop and then completed a kick-ball-change across the platform I felt something smack into the back of my legs. Naturally assuming that the man behind me had thrown something at me (as though that happens often?) I whipped around ready to confront the instigator. My finger was already pointing and I was sucking in a deep breath in preparation of PROVING MY POINT that you should not throw things at strangers, when I saw something on the ground. It was the bottom of my gladiator sandal. As in the sole of my shoe had broken off mid-stride, flipped up and smacked my bum, and then left me BAREFOOT in the bowels of the New York City transit system.
The naked skin of my foot was planted smack against the ground. But it gets worse. It was the one day in about 6 months that I did not have an extra pair of heels in my bag. Normally I commute in flats like every other New Yorker and then complete a quick change at the office once I am no longer hoofing it through the city streets. But not that day. Nope. It was just me, my bare foot and the road that lead to work. Feeling sicker with each step, I plodded my way up the stairs, onto the sidewalk and on my way to the office. But then I realized that Starbucks was much closer to the train than to my office and that if I didn’t pick up my morning coffee at that moment, I would probably have to go without. And since that was not an option, I made the entire morning grosser by going into Starbucks without a shoe. But don’t worry, I had on a maxi dress so when I slouched a bit, you couldn’t QUITE tell that I didn’t have on proper footwear. You know, just keeping it classy.
[And yes, I washed my foot in the bathroom sink at the office. And then pulled on the extra pair of shoes I keep in my desk drawer for emergencies - clearly that day being a qualifier. Blerg!]
Well, what can a girl do but get on with life after an experience like that?
Friday rolled around and I found myself out with colleagues to celebrate the departure of one of our own into a new career. It was a proper send off with laughs, hugs and cheers. A friend and I, J, left at the same time only to find the warm summer evening had turned into the kind of downpour that only happens on the set of a movie where machinery is involved and the water slamming against the pavement is perfectly back-lit by the setting sun. Shamelessly begging to use me for my umbrella, J and I started our slow progress to the closest train – at least 4 avenues away – as we did our best to huddle beneath our small amount of cover. As we made our way along the deserted streets, the rain began to lighten and tire itself out. And we were almost to the safety of the train station when the incident happened.
One moment we were chatting away about some odd topic or another, and the next a driver of a town car decided to swerve to our side of the street for one purpose only: To drive through a knee deep puddle in an effort to drench us with water. And not just any water, but dirty, dingy street water. I can feel you asking how in the world I could know that was his intent? But the truth is, there were no other vehicles or pedestrians on that street. In short, there was no other reason for him to sail from one side of the wet street to the other, almost jumping the curve, while hitting the puddle so fast that I had no other choice but to gasp, turn my shoulder and close my eyes as I was drenched from my head to my warm little toes inside my once waterproof Frye boots.
It was one of those surreal moments where I would do nothing but sputter and stand there as J kept exclaiming, “I can’t effing believe that just happened!!!!!!” But friends, here is the lowest part. I was wearing a white, crepe dress. A light, gauzy, summer shift that was already prancing along the border of see-throughness before being violently shoved into the CAN YOU SEE MY NIPS OR MY BACKSIDE category saved for celebrities and their infamous wardrobe malfunctions.
I had to decide in a second: attempt to find a cab (not likely after such a storm), or just tough it out and hop a train home. Feeling cheap and annoyed, I decided to just catch the subway home. So I stood on the platform, rode on the train and stalked to my front door with my bum flapping in the breeze. And it took a great deal of self-control not to yell at perfect strangers – Yes, I realize I am dripping with street water. And yes, I realize you can see through my dress.
Because if city folk are good for nothing else, we are good at staring at a spectacle. And sometimes you can’t help but BE THAT SPECTACLE.
So that is the story of me, and how I was laid low. Twice.