Our streets bring a kaleidoscope of treasure to us voyeurs or (as we prefer to say) totally intense observers.
I’ll never forget the night I took a solitary walk around my block. It was after a soft spring rain and I inhaled heady smells of damp growing greens from nearby Central Park. I breathed fresh air deeply as I rarely do in our action-packed streets.
Parked smack in front of my building was a slick red car whose proportions were absolutely perfect. No bulges. No awkward bobbed trunk. Indeed the engine compartment and trunk were balanced in what looked to be Platonic perfection.
What manner of car is this, I mused happily. Who designed the beauty? Is it expensive? Or is the owner simply the coolest kid on the block?
I circled the vehicle slowly, oblivious to whooshing cars, a victim of curiosity and euphoria. What a find on the street where I live.
I’m quite the starer. I’m also myopic, so I like to get up close to things. I took my sweet time checking out the vehicular beauty.
I had trouble making out the writing on the trunk, and so I hunkered down to peer through the front window. The matching red interior was illuminated by a restaurant sign. The window was blurry from the recent rain.
Physical discomfort doesn’t stop me. I pressed my nose against the wet window.
Suddenly I became conscious of another presence–as if there was only one other person on bustling Central Park South.
I hastily straightened up to see a fuming, totally irritated tall, thin,long-legged man with a hoodie over his head. Hands on hips, he was breathing fire — glaring at me. I could feel his body tension, even though I couldn’t see his face, since he was back-lit by the restaurant sign. About four feet away, he was standing in the street not on the sidewalk.
Now, your Manhattan V0yeur is thin-skinned and I know I sometimes tend toward cowardice.
Thus although I felt as though I was being threatened, I also told myself there was no reason why the man could be aiming his fury at me. But he suddenly took two steps towards me, and I stumbled backwards away from the gorgeous car as if it was guarded by a platoon of enemy soldiers.
This was no soldier. He was David Letterman. And boy was he ever pissed!
I got the picture. This red beauty was David Letterman’s car. I know his studio is four blocks away, but I feel as if he exists in an unknown universe.
The last thing he wanted was some female busybody close to his age pressing her nose against his car window. He’d probably get it washed and sanitized before sunrise.
I know he drives himself home to Connecticut, no chauffeur. Totally in control. And altogether alone: I bet privacy is also an issue.
I suddenly recall that a former producer of his lives in the building next to mine.
The skin on the back of my hands prickles. I’m totally freaked. I hate causing problems. Indeed I hate calling attention to myself.
As I awkwardly scuttle backward to my building canopy, I watch my “little tv friend” (to quote Jerry Seinfeld’s description of himself) unlock the front door of his perfect red roadster and drive off with screeching tires. I wince. I feel as if those screeches were aimed at my nerve endings.
This sighting clearly demonstrates that watching people on tv is totally different from seeing them on the flesh, pressing your nose against windows of their perfect possessions, and being the object of their feelings.
Woody Allen has said that seeing celebrities makes us feel immortal.
I’m embarrassed to say that I treasure my strange encounter with the angry Letterman. And I’ll be damned if I can tell you why. All I know is that I remember it better than any tv show.