With as much exuberance as fireworks against a night sky, spring has exploded. Just beyond the finger smudged windows of NJ transit lies a full fledged riot of blazing yellow forsythia, don’t-cry-for-me weeping cherry trees and magnolias in mauvey-purple. Handing my ticket to the conductor, he glances not at the round trip fare, but at my thumb. Despite a good scrub, my right thumb is stained deep blueberry, a residual effect from the morning’s blueberry-plum pie-ing. Mr. Conductor moves on to chastise someone for talking in the quiet car.
Seasonal allergies are ripe for the sneezing in both the Garden State and on the island of Manhattan. Dodging a sea of tourists clutching Macy’s shopping bags, I weave my way through Herald Square. The air is heady with the fragrance of Pronto Pizza’s dollar slice and fumes from the crosstown bus. Herald Square Park weaves a canopy of white flowering branches above two steely eyed bronze owls. Unwilling to subject myself to the crowds taking selfies in Times Square, I veer slightly east then north. Waiting at the corner, I am joined by a small party of young ladies embracing the spring-like weather. They take the lead when the light turns green and I follow. Outfitted in forever twenty something, they are leggy and perfectly coiffed, navigating the subway grates and the fractured sidewalks in bare legs and skyscraper heels. Those of us who sport kitchen clogs by day cannot maneuver the city streets in high-heeled footwear. Nor dare we consider bare legs an option. Instead, we don loathesome panty hose and slide into pointy toed shoes slung low to the ground. In my travels, I have somehow encountered a ketchup stained Shake Shack paper napkin which now follows me underfoot. My attempt to disengage it from my sensible evening shoes reveals a glaring snag. A substantial run in the dreaded pantyhose is inching its way skywards from ankle towards knee. Catching my pointy toe in the uneven sidewalk, I consider this a sign to regroup for a moment. And that’s when I see him. The harbinger of warmer weather, Mr. Softee who is cooling his ice cream heels on the corner of 42nd and 6th. Just beyond the truck’s sliding glass window is a toasted almond bar, no, a chocolate éclair, no, scratch that, a chocolate and vanilla twist dipped in chocolate. Any of these frozen confections is cause enough to stop and smell the blooms dancing across the lawn at Bryant Park. Instead I continue my walk/sprint, dashing uptown, dangerously close to being late for a 6:30 curtain.
Arriving at the theatre, I am fairly certain the ticket taker announces, “Ticket holders to the right. Snagged pantyhose wearers with blue thumbs to the left.” Inching my way towards Row J, Seat 12 it is clear I did not receive the wardrobe memo instructing me to don something black, preferably strapless. Instead, attired in long sleeves and something blue, you might say I am sticking out like a sore thumb. The theatre is icy cold, as frosty as Russia in winter. As the house lights dim, I am blissfully cloaked in darkness, my blueberry stained thumb hidden neatly beneath my Playbill. The woman seated to my left is unwrapping a candy bar. As the orchestra stirs, it occurs to me that I am in need of food. Two hours and fifty minutes later the audience is sprung from the Russian Revolution. Directly across the street from the theatre is my beloved Pie Face but sadly, it is closed. My stomach grumbles and then I remember; it’s not only New York, it’s spring in New York, and somewhere, my love, is Mr. Softee.