Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Hot time, summer in the city...

The reason tourists think New York stinks is because it does.

This city stinks.

The smell of rotting trash, baking in plastic bags and spilling out onto the sidewalks permeates the air on W. 16th St., west of Union Square. My friend swears it's the smelliest block in the city, but passing the back of a dim sum palace in Chinatown on an August afternoon might make even the hardiest of fellows flinch. The sidewalks are covered in a grimy gray film, as if they were sweating in sympathy with the weary suits, descending into the sub-tropical dank of the subways. The air down there is still, pushing even the most stoic rider to pace a little and mutter under his breath. Fuck it's hot. God damn subway. The train finally comes with a rush of air, but it isn't refreshing. It's like the blast from a furnace, pushing the heat trapped in the tunnels into the faces of the already weary.

It's disgusting. It's vile. It has a personality all its own. New York summer is overbearing, and sometimes the bleary heat causes New Yorkers to have momentary lapses of judgment resulting in quasi-atrocities like the sudden popularity of pink wine and oversized studded handbags.

The summer's heat pushes against your body. When people brush against your back, you cringe, wanting nothing that's 98.6 degrees touching your body. Winter ravages your constitution, making you wonder if it's possible for ice to form in your eyeballs. It makes me believe that hell could be too hot or too cold (like being frozen up to your nuts in a lake of gazpacho) either would suffice to ensure the suffering of the masses for all eternity. Purgatory would be more like endless repeats of MTV reality shows, slowly rotting your brain cells until the guards can't distinguish between your tears and your drool, but at least in purgatory you get a sofa.

Winter, when the concrete goes slick and streets become wind tunnels and a damp cold permeates your being with such gusto that you can't remember what it felt like to be warm, is more like a school bully. With enough layers, you can fend him off.

Summer, on the other hand, is like gym class, inevitable and humiliating. You can't take off your top to beat the heat in Central Park if you've got tits. Summer is a constant reminder of the injustice of… of whatever it is that makes it okay for men to roam the earth topless while the site of female nipple has the FCC howling for blood.

However, with one month left of "official" summer and back-to-school ads punctuating snippets of Stephen Colbert, I find myself wanting it to drag on. I want it to be the longest month ever, full of mojitos and sunburned cheeks as I wear sleeveless shirts and flip flops. Arm-flab be damned.

No comments: