Citizen of the Month

the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Weird Sunday Morning, Queens

There are some days that that you know will just turn out weirder than others.  I predict that today will be a very weird day.

It is 10:30 in the morning. Sunday. I’m sitting on a park bench in Kissena Park, waiting for a friend.  I am writing this post on a writing pad.

How do I know today will be weird?   Well, let’s begin right now and work backwards.

At this precise moment, I am looking at a big, bald, black man.  He is sitting at the adjacent park bench, where he is drinking a cup of coffee. This isn’t very unusual, but this man is built like a football player, with broad shoulder and a thick neck.  Again, not so strange, right?

So why is this man so special?   I can’t seem to look away from the back of his bald head.   It is pleasantly colored and shaped, and covered with only a wisp of peach fuzz.   His strong neck muscles lead upwards to the appropriate connectors, but his upper body strength gives off the impression that his head is also made of pure muscle.   As he turns towards the right to watch the passing pedestrians, I can clearly notice the indentation that at the point where the neck muscles meets the skull somewhere in the center of the back of the head.  It isn’t as if I have never seen a bald man before, but the prominent crease on this man’s head is incredibly unique, in so far that it looks almost exactly like a woman’s vagina, down to the gentle folds of skin and strands of short, wild hair surrounding the perfect recess, like the framing of a Rembrandt.

This dude has what looks to be a vagina in the back of his head.

Of course, I know that this is not a real woman’s vagina located on this guy’s head.   That defies reality.  Or does it?  Isn’t that what is on the minds of most men?   Isn’t it possible that the process of evolution might physically actualize what is already inside a man’s head, into something real, in a way that even Darwin could never understand.   After all, once mankind only imagined video phones, and now we can Skype in the real world on our laptops.    I’d like to believe that a man’s life is more than just a constant journey for the comfort of a woman, but can we fight human nature?  Why not make “pussy on our minds” into a genetic reality, much like we we developed ten fingers?!

Yes, today will be a weird day. And it is not just been about encountering men with vaginas on their heads!  I took a bus to get here to Kissena Park, about a ten minute ride from my home.  The bus arrived on time and the driver was friendly.

In the bus, I sat across from a man and woman, who were both dressed shabbily.  It was hard to decipher if they needy or a well-off couple dressing down for the weekend.   The man was deaf and was communicating with the woman in sign language.

As they signed, they took secret glances in my direction.  Or at least I imagined it.   I tried to ignore them by reading the advertisements in the bus, which were mostly about career schools and firms that killed bedbugs.   But I knew I was being watched and discussed.

At a certain point, the woman reached into her purse and took out an iPhone.  She handed it over to the deaf man.  He quickly typed something in, then abruptly stood, not in a threatening manner, but certainly with anxiety, and began to move towards me with the iPhone screen held out to my face, like he was presenting me with some bizarre Facebook update from Hell.

Was he going to ask me for money?   I have encountered many needy and homeless vision and hearing-disabled men in the subways, feeling their way down the middle aisle, warbling a song or selling pencils, making everyone in the subway car feel uncomfortable and guilty.   Was this the 21st Century method of asking for money on public transportation — coming up to strangers with a message on your iPhone?

I had no choice but to read the message on the screen, which was now inches from my face.

“Are you Tom Greene?” was written on the iPhone.

Tom Greene?   The comedian?  The one who was once married Drew Barrymore and had a TV show about his testicular cancer?

“No,” I said, shaking my head with emphasis, in case this deaf man was bad at lip-reading. “No, I am NOT Tom Green.”

He appeared disappointed.  He sign-languaged the information back to the women.   Even though I don’t understand sign language, I knew that he was expressing sadness over not being in the same Queens bus with Tom Green.  I was an impostor.  They ignored me for the rest of the trip.

Now do you see why I think today will be weird?  A black men with a vagina on his bald head.  A deaf man who thought I was Tom Greene and asked me about it on his iPhone.  And it is still only 10:30 as I sit here on this park bench.  Who knows what will happen next?

Perhaps I should have seen the signs earlier that events today would be odd and off-kilter.  If only I had been more observant.

After I woke up, I went to the Colombian Diner for breakfast.  This was before I went onto the bus with the deaf guy that brought me to this park bench near the bald guy where I am sitting right now, writing this down.

I frequently come into the diner, and usually order the breakfast special of two eggs, potatoes, toast, coffee, and a teeny-tiny glass of their water-downed orange juice.  When I am feeling spontaneous, I will order a Belgian waffle or an omelete, but 95% of the time, I order the same items for breakfast. My waiter is always Manny, the slowest waiter in the history of Queens, and never the other server, a curvy Latina with beautiful brown skin and full breasts.  Even though no one believes me, I have a conspiracy theory that the owner only allows the hot waitress to serve the Spanish-speaking customers, while the gringos like me get stuck with the dreadful Manny, who I assume is a nephew the owner was forced to hire.

“I’ll have two scrambled eggs, home fries, wheat toast, coffee, and the juice,” I told Manny.

“OK,” he said, as he wrote it down.

I’ve always been tempted to just say, “Just give me the usual,” like they do in the movies, but I’m not sure Manny would enjoy my familiarity.  He is not a sociable chap.  Perhaps something tragic happened to him during his childhood in Colombia, like his father being shot in front of him during a drug war.   There must be a reason he is the most dour waiter  that I’ve ever met.

On the other side of the restaurant, on the wall, are two framed photos.  I don’t usually take much notice of them — two random “relaxing” stock footage nature shots — that can easily be bought at Target or IKEA, framed for fifteen bucks.   Sometimes I notice a stressed NYC sanitation worker meditating on the photos while drinking his cup of coffee, imagining himself living near a gentle brook rather than a noisy, dirty neighborhood where the pigeons poop and the planes zoom overhead as the descend on nearby Laguardia Airport, spitting out their gas fumes next to the pigeon poop.

Today, when I looked over at the photos, and I noticed that they were crooked.  Perhaps someone accidentally knocked them while standing.   Or it was a subtle act of terrorism.   At this point, I had no idea that these photos were crooked for ME — a sign from God that my day was going to be as off-centered as their alignment.

“Hey, Manny.” I said, as he brought me my minuscule, thimble-sized glass of orange juice.  “Do you realize that the two photos over there are crooked?”

“No, they’re not,” he replied.

“Yes, they are.”

“No, they’re not.”

“OK, maybe it is me.”

I said that just to end the conversation.   Yes, I wimped out, even when I was 100% positive that they were crooked, and if I had OCD, like so many of you, I would have felt compelled to walk over there, lean in over the customers sitting in the booth under the photos, and lined nature back into symmetrical order.

“Screw it,” I said to myself. “It’s their freaking restaurant. If they want crooked photos here, let them!”

Crooked framed nature photos, deaf men who question my identity on their iPhones, and bald men with vagina heads.   Now, as I sit here on the park bench on this sunny Sunday in New York, I understand it all.   The Earth is coming off its axis, at least for one day.

It is 10:30 in the morning.   This day is going to be very weird.

18 Comments

  1. That IS a weird day. Course, the OCD editor in me needs to correct your third-to-last paragraph. “It’s THEIR freaking restaurant.” You’re welcome. Now excuse me while I try to grow a vagina on my head.

  2. Wait, was this a contest in which you were given nine disparate photographs and had to unite them somehow in a post? If so, bravo!

  3. You meet the strangest people. Where is the picture of the back of the black guys head?

  4. I thought you were quite good In Freddy Got Fingered. Did you or Drew call it quits?
    And were you insulted to be called a Canadian?

    That is some weird day.

  5. Very amusing – your weird days. Only in NYC, right?

  6. No pic of the curvy waitress? Disappointment all around 🙁

  7. I’m glad you’re not Tom Greene.

  8. I love weird days. I hope yours continued along the same off-centred alignment – it keeps things interesting.

  9. Is this page ten of your memoir? I like it.

  10. first of all, I know you didn’t take the picture of that man in the orange shirt. second of all, those pictures are definitely CROOKED. I couldn’t eat there, it would drive me crazy.

  11. The bus arrived on time, and the driver was friendly, you say?

    Hmm. That wasn’t just weird, it was a bizarre morning. Heh.

  12. Brilliant! Bravo! Incredible piece of writing…I’m in awe.

  13. Oh gosh, I’ve missed reading your blog and have no idea why it fell off my must-read blog list! But oh my God, the comparison to Tom Green is FUNNY! You DO look like him, sort of, like, an older (not in a bad way!) version of him. He went to school here, in my hometown. During a high school talent show, he got on stage and fried eggs. He drove his parents INSANE. He’s an Ottawa legend. Much like you’re a legend in the blog world. 😉
    And yes, the pictures are indeed NOT crooked.

  14. Yikes! I mean! The pictures are INDEED CROOKED! NOT straight. Sorry!

  15. What a great post. Not often a post can make me laugh, but the guy with the vagina on his head was great and it continued through the rest of the post. Just for the record, the pictures are crooked.

  16. I’m with Kurt. So very disappointed.

  17. I want to fly to that restaurant now and straighten those pictures

  18. This post almost makes me want to give NYC a second chance. You never see stuff like this out here.

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