As in past columns, I’ve lumped all of my bold escapades and misadventures together and nicknamed them “Eskewpades.” Fun moments? Fur sure. But mostly public faux pas.
When it comes to the public in general, I’m conflicted. Naturally I could live without the long lines at concerts, airports, subways and discos. Especially when someone is pushing into my contorted back.
As a crotchety New Yorker, you either find a way to cope with the sea of crowds or you drown. One of the things I love about being in public here is the very same thing others hate — people hustling along the streets, completely ignoring the existence of everyone else.
Why do I love that? Because I’m a walking paradox. I harbor no need to actually interact with strangers, but I desperately need to feel the comfort of human presence. I’m a curmudgeon, I grant you, but I’m no misanthrope. And whereas I may be a germaphobe, I’m also quite a mingler — until someone sneezes in an enclosed area. Then I become as jittery as a current cabinet member.
Let’s just say that I adore only one kind of crowd in general — any kind that gathers solely out-of-doors. I don’t even object to the exciting insanity of Times Square on New Years Eve. Even though I could do without the bone chill, I love the warmth of the maddening crowd.
My one outdoors exception? Parades. I hate ’em.
I overdosed on NYC parades within two months of my residency. Yes, two months. Have you any idea how many parades New York City can squeeze into a two-month period?
It’s madness. No one, but no one, can possibly penetrate an NYC parade and live to tell about it. When you’re stuck in the crowd, you’re stuck, baby. And, believe me, when you have a busy editor or a testy mother-in-law expecting you at 2 p.m., you desperately want to wade through the huddled masses pronto. And that’s impossible. As a pitifully punctual person, nothing frustrates me more than to arrive late.
Let’s face it, parades have an especially obnoxious way of delaying us power walkers with rapid rhythm because most parades boast at least 30 blocks of floats and marchers. With a dozen or so cops on every corner, there’s no way for the hasty New Yorker to legally break through the parade’s participants and all those confounded balloons.
I’m not moaning about meritorious parades, but, get real, not all parades celebrate patriotism or worthy causes. While I’ll readily acknowledge that all parades do indeed boost the New York City economy, waaay too many feature recognition for small or stupid accomplishments.
The most ridiculous rationale for a parade in recent history involved a drunken politician, who shall remain nameless. Rumor has it that once, in a fit of rage, “he threw himself to the floor and missed.”
Yes, missed the floor. In a split second, he managed to stagger up against an open window and fly right out from the fifth-story opening.
As only a drunk could do, fate flopped him on a second-floor awning.
There’s more: A shih tzu poodle hanging his head out the window on the third floor felt the flying man breeze by and excitedly went flying after him as if he were chasing a car. The drunk caught and thus saved the shih-poo. They were rescued without a scratch.
You guessed it: Soon thereafter, New York threw a parade for the suddenly “sober forever” politician and the adorable dog.
So there you have it, New York City throws parades for any reason. My Aunt Gertie even claims that 11 contestants of Letterman’s stupid people/stupid pets contests all got parades. Huh?
Oh, please. Bring back those thrilling days of yesteryear. The times in which organizers demanded that it required a super-special event to be parade-worthy. Or a super-special person with unquestionable credentials. (Of course, that automatically eliminated any and all politicians, but I digress).
Sorry, but Eskew the escapader must eschew all parades. With one exception. With the present bar set so low, I would certainly be agreeable for a parade in my honor.
— Steve Eskew
Retired businessman Steve Eskew received master’s degrees in dramatic arts and communication studies from the University of Nebraska at Omaha after he turned 50. After one of his professors asked him to write a theater column, he began a career as a journalist at The Daily Nonpareil in Council Bluffs, Iowa. This led to hundreds of publications in a number of newspapers, most of which appear on his website, eskewtotherescue.com.