Social Stereotypes

10 03 2009

For me, night time is when life really begins; at least on the weekends.  The weekends are a time in which I can detach myself from the constant, fast paced rush that is required of life in New York.  It’s a time when I can take notice and appreciate the grandeur of this magnificent city we live in.  Saturday night is the stereotypical social night that almost applies to everyone.  If there was ever a stereotype in which I wanted to belong, that would be the one.  My Saturday evenings are usually comprised of the monotonous house party, or latest movie in theaters, but there was a new existential characteristic added to this particular night; the walk through 42nd street.

The night started out in the central socioeconomic hub of the Upper East Side, 86th Street and Lexington Ave.  As I made my way to the subway station, I couldn’t help but sense an air of unfamiliarity.  The once busy daytime streets now drenched in darkness.  Even more so as a street lamp sings its last aria until the morning when ConEd can replace its sorrows.  Empty church stoops now filled with the grimy cardboard homes of those less fortunate than I.  As I went underground, the stench of urine and unattended trash bags overwhelmed my senses.  As I hurry down the tunnel towards the train, I knock an undeserving cup of coffee over that wakes its misfortunate owner trying to make ends meet, trying to make it by, but luck seemed to be on the other side.  Guilt ran across my conscience as I gave the man money, enough to supply a few days of coffee, knowing that I could do little more than that.

77th street, 68th Hunter College, 59th street, 51st street, 42nd street,Stand clear of the closing doors please.”  It was then that I was in the grace of Grand Central.  It was a spectacular sight in its own respect.  The window shops all aglow despite the shop keepers being snug in bed in the comfort of their homes.  The gold encrusted frames of doorways and lamp posts.  It seemed almost surreal.  I was expecting to awaken from a dream, but was snapped back to reality when a strong, loud whoosh of air startled me as a bus was passing by. 

Over the horizon, I could see it.  The sun, its light, penetrating the thick darkness cast across the city.  Morning approached as the light came closer with every step, illuminating off the surrounding buildings.  As I walked towards the light, I noticed groups strolling in the opposite direction.  Drunkards walking like collapsed marionettes, laughing like a ravaging pack of hyena’s at the simplest of bar jokes.  A man walks into a bar, ouch.  Party girls with their short mini-skirts parading under the arms of men who seem to love them, but as noon of the next day approaches, he’ll slip his wedding band back on and return to his wife.  

The dark, empty streets gradually grew with vivacious colors, shades, and hues.  What were posses of people became mobs, and I came to realize that the light was not emanating from the sun, but from the heart of it all; 42nd street, Times Square.  Times Square is a bastion of all things great, fun, and full of an exciting energy that you would have to experience yourself for you to believe me.  It is the one location in New York City that is cast in perpetual daylight.  It is the ever flowing fountain of youth, seemingly giving its visitors a quality of immortality that keeps them going for what seems like days on end. 

The aroma of Times Square brought back my sense of familiarity.  The scent of cheap men’s cologne competing with its date’s Chanel No.5, the smell of “fresh” McDonalds french-fries on the fryer.  Applebee’s trying to entice customers to its tables despite the presence of the ever popular Dallas BBQ across the street.  As I fight my way through the impregnable crowds, I not only sense the heat generated from the millions of halogen lights above, but of the lovers gently embracing each other so as to not get swallowed and never seen again.  The stench of vomit emanates from the slightly inebriated woman, after having too much Cold Stone’s.  Business associates smiling at the success of the transaction made over steak and a Heine, while reporting their latest endeavor to their boss.

As I make my way past the pseudo mosh pit that has formed in front of the AMC Theater, I cross the cavalcade of automobiles that is 42nd street, to what I hoped would be a less hostile environment in Loews.  As I struggle to catch a glimpse of the marquis above, I stand there bewildered to see that it was 11:34 p.m.  To me, the night was young, but I couldn’t help wonder in amazement as to why 42nd street was crowded like the Bronx Zoo was on field trip day.  Then the realization hit me.  This social stereotype that I have established myself with not only pertains to me, but also to the thousands all around me.  This stereotype has evolved to one of social norm, a taboo if you will, and all these people were doing was practicing the same weekly ritual that I have become so familiar with.