Wednesday, January 12, 2005

conan the normal guy

when i stepped outside after work, it felt like i was in london, england. it feels like that a lot these days. when it's sunny, it feels like i'm in san francisco.

it was dark but the air was thick and heavy and gray. when i inhaled, it was like breathing in cold steam. looking out the windows upstairs made the office feel as though we were trapped in a cloud. it was a total white out without the snow.

i decided to walk across town to clear my head. i saw the bus as i stepped outside and i thought about sprinting for it, just to show myself that i could. but i needed to unwind. i needed the walk. as i plodded west, i went through my mental checklist and made a few notes to myself. went through what i wanted to get done the next morning. it had been quite a day. i spent most of it doing my thing while making sure that their thing was already done, which can be exhausting whether there's a lot to do or not. there were a few meetings in that stifling conference room but no free lunches. too bad. i was looking forward to a little cibatta.

i made sure that i got a lot done, believe me. phone calls. xeroxing. sending faxes and such. i even figured out microsoft powerpoint, God help me. i worked that hard.

i don't know. walking fast makes me think, gives me ideas. gets me ready for the cramped rush hour ride home. i lose myself in my thoughts. i made the lights and kept my pace and, sure enough, i got a good idea as i hit lexington avenue. it was so good, it didn't leave me alone until i got to rockefeller center. as i approached the nbc building, i saw a small group of people crowding the entryway. they looked fratboy-like and they were a little too jocular to be out on the street in a clump this early. they weren't loud, per se. it was just their vibe. it was drinking behavior but clearly, there was no alcohol.

and then i saw conan o'brian amongst them. i hardly ever see famous people in nyc, probably because they fade into the woodwork. probably because i'm not paying attention. nobody cares except the american tourists that infest midtown in overfed pasty clumps, like its an urban annex of disneyland. that's where are the tourists are. i could definitely care less. but this whole scene was in my way. i couldn't avoid it and i really wanted to.

to tell the truth, he reminded me of my brother ramon. he was skyscraper tall with angular shoulders, a tuft of red hair that stood up and caught the light, a hairdo that vaguely resembled a dry d.a. how tall, i couldn't tell but he was clearly head and shoulders above the others around him. he was stepping out of the building, greeting everyone in this really expansive way and getting away from them all at the same time. one long sweeping gesture that said hello, must be going. but it was generous and warm and engaging. he stepped out onto the street with an air of finality that made the rest of them stay on the curb in silence. and then the strangest thing happened. he stuck his hands in his pockets and began to whistle, like an ordinary joe. i wondered: was he trying to affect normalcy to keep the pseudo-fratboys away or was he really, well...normal?

i saw a limo across the street and i thought he'd get into it. i watched with one eye as a car or two passed and then he was across the street, walking parallel to me, with that lanky long-legged determined stride that ramon has, the one that still sometimes has me half-running to keep up if i'm wearing the wrong shoes, because he refuses to slow down for me. interestingly enough, i kept up with his stride without breaking mine. we were together in some wierd way. he was whistling like a greengrocer. like he was lost in thought. and then as he passed a dhl van, he vanished. but then i looked over my shoulder and saw him glide through the swinging doors and into the lobby.

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