Pick-Up Schtick


Yesterday afternoon this foursome played on the west side of Union Square. The music was fantastic, the guys were affable, and the crowd was extremely appreciative. There was no doubt everyone was having a great time. Strangers were smiling at and talking to each other. Everyone &#151 from a five-month old baby with her mom to an old woman in a wheelchair with her aide — was tapping their feet against the ground, their fingers against their legs or arms, bopping their heads, or even doing a little hip action. It was, indeed, almost impossible to not get into it.
Except for one chick. She was no older than 25, runway model thin and tall and wore jeans that were obscenely tight and low. A black shirt. High-heeled boots. She just stood there, slouching, her arms crossed in front of her chest, completely still. Her face was immobile. She was even less animated than a cardboard cut-out and about as thick as one from the side. I wanted to poke her with a stick to see if she would respond. And, yes, beat her with a stick as well.
The group took a break and I talked to the guys for a bit, went to Java-n-Jazz to get some takeout iced coffee (!), and came back for the next set. So did Connie Comatose. Except this time she stood apart from those of us with pulses. She was planted to my right, several feet away, but slightly in front of everyone else. l wanted to see if she would blink if I punched her in the face that I still hadn’t completely seen thanks to the curtain of lank brown hair hiding it.
Her posture was so poor that her flat stomach was protruding miserably. Her hipbones were somewhat raw and red (rug burns? I say rug burns!), and the expanse of skin just above the waistband of her jeans looked as if it had recently undergone a particularly aggressive and evil waxing.
Her scrawny shoulders hunched forward, and the part of her face trying to pass as a chin was almost resting on her concave chest. She was talking into a cell phone — apparently she managed to come out of her coma long enough to lapse into a catatonic state! — and didn’t stop during the entire set. To her credit (the only I will afford her), she wasn’t speaking loudly enough for anyone to hear her conversation. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if she just communicated via a series of carefully modulated breaths and glottal stops.
She reached into her large black messenger-type bag for a pack of cigarettes, and one escaped from the pack and onto the black street. She ignored it. I was all set to get mad at her for littering, but then thought, “Maybe she’s a nice girl and is leaving it for a bum.” (See? I was willing to give her a break!) No sooner did I close the quotes on that thought than a youngish guy bolted over, crouched down at her feet, squirrelishly grabbed the cigarette, jumped back up to his full height, put the cigarette between his own lips, and tapped the girl on the shoulder for a flick of her lighter just as she was done lighting her own.
“You’re not from around here,” he said abruptly.
She slightly turned to her left. I finally saw her face. She was an ostrich, complete with tiny undersized head, beak, and chinless overbite. She wasn’t hideous, I suppose, and had a certain “look”, but was far from pretty. She was attractive insofar as she was capable of attracting attention, but that’s about it.
“No,” she said without expression, and turned her head away from him to face the band. (She was off the phone, although only momentarily, by this time.)
“You’re from Europe!” said her brilliant admirer.
“No,” she said dismissively, barely looking at him out of the corner of her eye. This girl was no barrel of monkeys, but at least she knew better than to let her admirer know she had no intention of playing pick-up sticks.
“Where you from, then?” he asked, still pushing on, full of nervous bravado.
I didn’t hear her response, but he then said, “Texas!? Wow!” and I saw a grimace (or was it a smirk? it was difficult to tell!) surfacing ever so slightly under her beak.
I didn’t hear any further words exchanged for several beats. Finally the guy said, way too cheerfully given the level of success he’d achieved, “It was nice meeting you!”, disappeared back to wherever he originally came from, and no doubt snuffed out his cigarette so he could save it as a memento of his truly momentous experience.
The mannequin didn’t change her stance. She just stood there producing smoke. But contrary to the popular adage, there was no fire. Not even a spark.