Graciously devoid of intellect, I jumped in front of a taxi cab on the corner of Fifth and Broadway. I wish I could tell you that it hurt or that I have learned something, but something that day deprived me of an important lesson.
Being hit by a car looks hideous. People flinch and jerk and cover their eyes with hands. Sporadically, they exclaim “Ouch” or sigh a little “Ohh”. But when it’s you who is being the subject of the merciless cab captain, you don’t feel a thing.
And that’s precisely what happened to me — I did not feel a thing. It hit me pretty hard, though. The cab must have been moving about thirty miles per hour. At least! I remember to have damaged the hood and vividly remember smashing the windshield with my coccyx. The driver did make an “Ohh”, but it looked a little like an “Ouch” from where I was at that particular moment — in the air, so we’ll never know.
He jumped out of the cab and started torturing me with a question.
“Are you alright, sir?”
And if I were indeed a “sir” and not in such dramatic shock, I would have answered, “I’m quite splendid, thank you very much for asking,” and would then go by my business to the Library of Congress. But I was certainly not knighted — not yet, at least. And while I was indeed rushing, my path lay to a place much more pedestrian than the aforementioned Library — I was ready to spare my life for a hot dog stand right across the Broadway Street.
To understand, why that hot-dog stand was so important, I must roll back a few weeks and tell you a different story — a story of love and betrayal.
We met, as I have mentioned, a few weeks back. Her raven hair, fluttered in November wind like a sail of the most exquisite yacht. Her face, covered with a crimson woolen scarf, fought the first snowflakes of the timid winter that melted with a sight of her deep yellow eyes. She marched across Broadway and blinded me, so I could not see anything else but her slender figure.
She was that rare magic, you can only experience in old paperback novels, stacked in secret rooms of private bookshops. Glazing through the nasty weather, she moved like a steam locomotive. The crowd was the Red Sea and she was Moses. They lay a red velvet carpet before her feet and waved her goodbyes with white handkerchiefs. Yet, with all the grace and power with which she moved forward, she was blind enough to not notice me (and I mean that in a literal sense) and cut the line for the Billy’s Hot Dog cart.
At that moment, I did not say a word, though now I wish I did. Her magic worked, and the raven hair still fluttered, though looked less than a sail and more like a pirate flag, but that’s not the point.
She cut the line.
Normally, I would be all over her not-so-sorry ass, explaining the etymology of the word “line”. Did you know that there are around one hundred Wikipedia articles that talk about lines? There are films, literature, business, computing, and telecommunication uses for the word line. Mathematics and geometry sections occupied me for a while, while I impatiently waited for the hot dog.
By the way, the military meanings for the word “line” are further subdivided into land warfare and sea warfare, each with exactly two entries, which I found fascinating. By the time I got to “other uses” and under it — to the “queue area”, known in America as a “waiting line”, she bought the last hot dog, received a complimentary free bottle of water, deprived myself of giving her a very valuable lesson on American queue systems, and was on her way through the Red Sea, pushing mere mortals apart like a bulbous bow with a kinetic energy of an intercontinental container ship.
Then I got to meet Billy. Billy told me the story of how he was going to visit his kids in Wisconsin and tell them wonderful stories of all the people he met while serving the best hot dogs on the island of Manhattan. He told me about the divorce, about the time he stood in line for soup last Thanksgiving, and how he lost custody of the kids, and then how his mom had died of cancer, and how he built his hot dog business from the ground up and won the right to see the kids again. And how they promised to move with him to New York, just for the school break, and see how his hot dog dream became a successful career — as he promised them. He told me everything, and he told me that in exactly two weeks, when he returns from Wisconsin with the kids, he’ll be at the corner of Fifth and Broadway and that he’ll have enough hot dogs for me and time for another story.
Now two weeks forward, I was rushing to hear that story and then — you know what happened. I woke up at the Bellevue Hospital, on the east side, and I felt nothing.
Dr. Norris told me that this was a side effect of a shock and that tomorrow it will, in his words, “hurt like I was run over with a steamroller” yet I should not worry because he’ll prescribe me pain medications. I didn’t tell him, that technically I’d be dead if I were to be run over with a hypothetical steamroller and that being hit by a car is bad enough and did not require this unnecessary hyperbole. But I had no chance to tell him that because Billy and his two daughters emerged from behind Dr. Norris’ back, and smiled when they saw I was quite alive and even agitated about certain inconsistencies in the hyperbolic imagination of my physician.