For several hours, an earlier city, on Second, First & A. At the East Village Ukrainean Restaurant, I was (almost) the youngest customer. We had time to waste. We dawdled over krokety & pancakes, read the paper, whiled away more time with coffee & tea, but the senior diners scattered about the room outlasted us with ease. Nearby, a couple in their seventies, along with a male companion, discussed family health, exercise routines, and relatives in Florida. An elderly doctor, it seemed, had taken up with a fifty-something girlfriend, and the woman at the table said it was all very well for widowers - they could take their pick of younger ladies. The widows didn't have it so good. Were the doctor's children "professional" she wanted to know? She asked this keenly. Several times. But the answer was disappointing: their careers were nothing to write home about. On the talk went, with a few bathroom breaks along the way, & it got mildly exciting at one point, as the woman told the friend of a time, way back, when she & her husband ended up at a party where all the other guests smoked pot, & soon afterwards all fell fast asleep. "They're all divorced now, Every couple!"she pronounced with ill-concealed relish. What comfort in a yellow, wood-paneled dining room, far from the avenue of 2012.
We got to Lucy's just as it opened. More time ticking without urgency. The pink light soothing away all daytime pressures. The bar almost to ourselves. Lucy herself bustling about, slicing limes and getting things ready for the night ahead. Some Polish TV (after a fair bit of tinkering with the set) and a lady down the bar discussing the common vocabulary of Slavic languages. What pleasure at an early weekday evening hour, without the bar-crawling hordes.
At Theater for the New City, we watched Bread & Puppet plays from the 60s. The audience was on the gray side, and my theater companion claimed to hear the constant grumbling of stomachs. The plays were earnest, the puppets big and beautiful, and the mostly youthful players purposefully sincere. The old man himself, Peter Schumann, was a godlike figure, with his shock of white hair. It was a fine thing to see his vision fifty years strong. The People kicked the bare ass of a giant Uncle Sam. The Diggers sang to occupy common ground. Bread was broken and handed out as the plays ended. The evening softened, for a little while at least, the edges of our all-too cynical hearts.