At the Apple Store in Midtown, I am downloading Quicktime Pro onto my laptop. I look up to find what many would consider an anomaly. In front of me is an Italian man with his girlfriend. They share two characteristics: they are both buying HD input cables and they are both wearing UGG boots. Her’s are the classic light tan color, his are medium brown – the color of coffee with milk in it. His boots wouldn’t be so noticeable if he didn’t also stuff the pant legs of his jeans into them. They are both huffing and puffing at their sales representative as he leads the couple across the store to buy more accessories. I don’t know if this guy’s fashion sense is funny or tragic.
Outside of the store, in the plaza that also encompasses FAO Schwartz and The General Motors Building, a hip-hop dad in skinny jeans goofs off with his five year old son. The father can’t be any older than twenty-three or twenty-four. The son is distracted from his Nintendo DS as his father plays dead. The boy erupts in giggles, his father’s face contorted like a cartoon character after smacking into a giant boulder. The father scoops up his son and flies him around the plaza like an airplane. Upon landing, the kid is tickled into submission. Businessmen and women running to catch cabs and get to Grand Central stare in mild bewilder at this man and his child; the father, however, doesn’t give a damn about anyone’s opinion, except the one of the kid. This is clearly the highlight of both of their days.
A pretty girl smiles at me on an uptown N train. This never happens in New York anymore, unless someone is looking for a green card. I smile back and after a moment she says to me “Have I met you before?” I say “No.” But I am wrong: we have met. In fact, we are both going in for an audition at the same improv theater this weekend. This girl is very pretty, in a classic “I saw a pretty girl on the subway today” kind of way. We talk. I ask her to come to a comedy show I have tonight, she has Pilates. My stop comes up and I have no choice but to get off the train. I say goodbye to her as the crowd pushes me onto the platform. The train rushes off into the tunnel, into the Upper East Side, into Queens. Typical “Matt Fried meets a pretty girl on the subway” kind of luck.
I walk past the corporate headquarters of the world-famous fashion company I was fired from. As my day job, I worked reception and hated it. I started in January 2008 and barely lasted six weeks. Why did I get fired? Because I didn’t care. I hated working in an office where I was everybody’s doormat, including confused old women who used to call my desk, thinking that corporate was the store on Madison Avenue. “I don’t know where you can get one of our horse saddles restuffed, Mrs. Roland – sorry.” I was fired two days before Valentine’s Day, via voicemail. Part of me felt like a failure, another part still didn’t care. One year later, I’m a freelance writer and producing my own talk show. Myself from last January probably wouldn’t recognize myself of this January. It’s funny how the worst things are sometimes the best.