Bourbon Cowboy

The adventures of an urbane bar-hopping transplant to New York.

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Location: New York, New York, United States

I'm a storyteller in the New York area who is a regular on NPR's "This American Life" and at shows around the city. Moved to New York in 2006 and am working on selling a memoir of my years as a greeting card writer, and (as a personal, noncommercial obsession) a nonfiction book called "How to Love God Without Being a Jerk." My agent is Adam Chromy at Artists and Artisans. If you came here after hearing about my book on "This American Life" and Googling my name, the "How to Love God" book itself isn't in print yet, and may not even see print in its current form (I'm focusing on humorous memoir), but here's a sample I've posted in case you're curious anyway: Sample How To Love God Introduction, Pt. 1 of 3. Or just look through the archives for September 18, 2007.) The book you should be expecting is the greeting card book, about which more information is pending. Keep checking back!

Saturday, May 27, 2006

A Thirtysomething Man's Fancy

It’s spring, and all over Manhattan, skirts are in bloom. It’s amazing. I lived in Tallahassee Florida for six years—ground zero for tight-shirted, hooker-heeled, shiny undergraduate pulchritude—but I don’t think until this week I’ve ever found myself so enchanted just by watching women move. Up stairways, along sidewalks, rushing for the subway, and always these springtime skirts swing and bounce around legs that carry a beauty the women themselves seem scarcely aware of most of the time. It’s as though the entire city is dancing. I’m not a leg man, but I’m thinking of converting.

Since I grew up in Tucson, Arizona, I’ve always hated the concept of weather. What I like about the desert is its consistency. It was hot yesterday, it’s hot today, and tomorrow has a 100% chance of hotness. I developed habits you can only have in such a climate—such as reading while walking, and being content with a twenty-year-old car since the salt will never eat at it. But maybe it’s a reflection of the determined transformation I’m making in my life, I don’t know, but I gotta say: spring in Manhattan is the best argument for weather you could muster. It’s the exact opposite of Spring Break on South Beach, where I went one semester and found, to my surprise, that I eventually became actually tired of seeing topless women sunbathe. I was surrounded by fit tanned women in the prime of their attractiveness, almost entirely exposed and lying supine, and even though this was my first year of transition from the mincing puritanism of Hallmark and Kansas City, by early afternoon on South Beach all I could think of was returning to my hotel room and reading a book. It’s enough to make a person doubt evolution.

Not so in New York. Rather than glut yourself on a pleasure till it’s taken for granted, here in this city (and, I guess, all across the world at the same latitude), you appreciate the little things. After winter, the first feminine arm on the bus seems like a happy, vulnerable smile offered to the world. Mere ankles can seem coy and inviting. A good friend of mine who’s a nudist once told me that, when you’re at a nudist convention, nudity becomes so commonplace that it’s shocking to see someone wearing socks. It’s like that here. Who needs Girls Gone Wild? Yesterday on the subway a woman wore a white crinkled-cotton skirt festooned with purple flowers, and as she swung her leg up from the platform to the train, the skirt floated like a cobweb and revealed bright blue strappy sandals the color of a gumball. I’ve been picturing it ever since, filling it in with imaginary scoring by Montovani. It’s not even particularly erotic. (I know the difference; one train stop later a gorgeous, braless young Filipina had her shirt unbuttoned to her midriff and was fanning herself while sweat ran down her skin. Yikes! That was hard train to leave.) All I know is, spring seems to bring out the best femininity of women in a way that just makes my heart happy.

(Side note: I just thought of an additional pro-weather argument. To wit: you lead a richer, happier life if you notice the little things instead of operating on automatic and waking up twenty years later thinking, “Where did my life go?” And if you want to be constantly presented with something new, something changing, a weather-ridden city would seem to be your solution to eternal mental youthfulness. Of course, there’s an ironclad counter-argument: snow sucks ass.)

The only downside to the current weather is that it’s really damned hot. It’s embarrassing to admit my weakness here. I grew up—hell, I thrived—in a place where the average yearly temperature is north of 80 degrees, and then spent the last six years in Tallahassee, a city so swelteringly humid that if you wore glasses and walked in and out of doors a lot, you practically needed to carry a little squeegee along. I barely ever complained. But something about New York—the apartment itself? The recent rainfall? My disastrous feng shui?—something has rendered this apartment so stiflingly close that it’s all I can do to keep my shirt on and resist buying a few bags of ice to roll around on. I’d purchase a fan...but I don’t get paid until Wednesday. When payday finally comes, I think I may cry for joy. It’ll certainly be a relief. My bank account’s developing an ulcer.

But for now I don’t care. It’s a long weekend, and when the weather’s like this, the most joyous thing you can do is simply walk down the street. That’s what I think I’ll do tomorrow: get a book, walk up to the park near the Cloisters, stare out over the Hudson River, and think how lucky I am, and how beautiful the world has suddenly become.


Anonymous Stacy Rollins said...

Dickerson. Evan and I were totally at the fucking Cloisters yesterday and all their florid surroundings (yes, all) and even in the New Leaf restaurant, confabulating like mad over easy eggs, and thinking also on heat and knowing its intrinsic nature: that of liquefaction. First the seeping (early, birdsong, la), then the steeping (maybe crickets, don't always know). Today I buy an expensive portable AC and do a shimmy in one of many skirts with a stark pattern. This and more.

5/29/2006 7:18 AM  

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