Unpublished Metropolitan Diaries

Those familiar with the Monday New York Times “Metropolitan Diary” feature know that freelance writers are invited to submit a witty slice of New York City life in about 150 words or less. Well, so far I’m batting zero with six out of six of my submissions having been rejected. I think I know what editor Michael Pollak is looking for, but I’ve failed to impress him as of this writing. My friends Debbie and Andrea tell me that mine are so much better than the mostly lame ones that are selected. That’s what friends are for, but even when I tried writing a really lame one, it was politely turned down. But alas, having the luxury of my own blog, you can read my rejected stuff. We’ll begin with my favorite one:

The GPS Follows Directions

The GPS (global positioning system) must have been invented for my acutely geographically-challenged friend. The other day she was driving with renewed confidence, thanks to her Garmin GPS. Heading towards the Belt Parkway in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, she instructed the unit to take her “Home,” which is on the south shore of Long Island. Suddenly she noticed it was taking her over the Verrazano Bridge. This, she knew, was a big error, so she ignored the GPS and stopped to ask for directions – the old fashioned way. She pulled into a gas station and was ready to ditch her Garmin as soon as she arrived home.

     The next day she was relating this misadventure to another friend who astutely figured it out: “You purchased the Garmin in Florida and programmed it to “Home” down there. It was taking you back to Naples! You didn’t re-program it once you came back to New York!”

The next one is probably my first submission to the diary. I thought this would surely make the cut, but did not:

The Burghers of Calais at the Met

Strolling through the American Wing of the Met with a couple of friends on a recent Tuesday afternoon, we stopped to admire and marvel at Rodin’s hefty sculpture, ”The Burghers of Calais.” A nearby museum guard noticed our interest and in a friendly manner asked, “Would you like to know the story behind this sculpture?” 

     “Sure,” we responded in unison. As a frequent museum visitor, I can’t remember the last time a guard offered to expound on an artwork, but expound he did and by the time he was finished we learned that this monument commemorates an episode in the Hundred Years’ War between England and France. Edward III laid siege to Calais and Philip IV of France ordered the city to hold out at all costs until starvation forced the city to negotiate a surrender. This sculpture depicts six of the wealthiest town leaders carrying keys to the city, with nooses around their necks as they volunteered to sacrifice themselves.

    Meeting such a knowledgeable and generous museum security guard was a rare and pleasant surprise. (January 2010)

 Dear Diary,

 

     Setting: Weekday afternoon on West End Avenue at 74th Street
In my weekly quest for the holy grail (aka a coveted parking space within walking distance of The Esplanade Residence for Senior Living), I happened upon a potential spot after only five minutes of circling the neighborhood. A man had just gotten into his minivan but did not appear to be vacating the spot. Employing driver sign language for “Getting out?” he gestured back, “No, not yet.” He then rolled down his window to say, “Ten to fifteen minutes.” Being all too familiar with the dearth of parking spaces in this area, I decided to wait. I sent my mother upstairs ahead of me; my visit to my aunt would just have to wait a few more minutes. No sooner had she left  than the driver rolled down his window to say he changed his mind and would be staying another twenty minutes. He suggested I circle around for a spot and ever the optimist, I heeded his advice. Forgeddaboudit ! I came back within 10 minutes or so and now, he either felt sorry for me or admired my persistence because he got out of his van and came over to my car. Now what?  I rolled down the window and he asked, “Do you live around here?” I then told him I was planning a short visit to my aunt in The Esplanade across the street, to which he responded, ”Do you have a couple of quarters? I’ll give you my spot and I’ll go find a muni meter. Hey, that could be my mother up there.” A couple of quarters? I handed him ten quarters, parked and raced upstairs to visit and give my aunt the wristwatch I bought for her.
(November 2010)

 

Dear Diary,

     After a Saturday matinee of “South Pacific,” my husband and I were treated to a torrential downpour as we made our way up Amsterdam Avenue.  Before long we ducked under a store awning hoping the rain would soon let up. Along comes a very tall couple with a poor excuse for an umbrella and they appear to be in the middle of a fight over it. He’s about 6’6″ and it looks as if he wants to hold the umbrella but she’s not giving it up. They’re both getting wet but he’s drenched. Suddenly they notice our awning and still arguing, they decide to share it with us. Thinking we really didn’t need any more turmoil in an already stressful situation, I was waiting for her to wash that man right out of her hair. Then, just as we were about to move on to escape from their rainy day drama, the sun poked through the clouds and the rain stopped.

     Fight over. The woman collapsed her umbrella and as if they had kissed and made up, they continued along their merry way. I was reminded of the Allan Sherman song, “Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah.” Similarly, when the sun comes out, the kid at sleep away camp writes, “Kindly disregard this letter.”

 Dear Diary,
    Setting: The evening rush hour on the upper eastbound level of the Queensborough Bridge (soon to become the Edward I. Koch Bridge) several hours before the scheduled  blizzard of January 12.
    With traffic at a standstill, I couldn’t help but notice strobe-like flashes coming from the backseat of the white Lincoln Town Car in front of me. Before I had time to wonder what it was, a fully extended arm shot out of the window with a digital camera pointed backwards towards the city. The camera continued to flash on this stunningly clear evening and I have no doubt the shutterbug got some great shots of the Manhattan skyline.
(January 2011)
Since all else failed, I sent this, hoping it would be “lame” enough:
Dear Diary,
 Setting: the M-57 bus heading down West End Avenue during rush hour. Just south of 72nd Street, a woman gets on and politely asks the bus driver,”Sir, what street is City Center located on?”
     In a seasonally jolly manner, he responds, “Don’t know City Center, but Rockefeller Center is on Fifth and 50th.” Obviously frustrated, I hear her muttering, “Why did I bother?” as she found a seat right behind mine. I turned around to offer my two cents: “The City Center is on 56th between 6th and 7th.” 
   I doubt that he heard me, but the bus driver continued his monologue “New York is a big city. I live in Yorkville. Not many people know where that is. I know SoHo, NoHo but City Center? No.”
(December 2010)

 

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