North. South. East. Whoops.

The wrong directions.

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Home game

59th and Lex subwayI

Friday.  6pm.  I stood on the Queens-bound N/R/W platform at 59th and Lex, encumbered by a gym bag that would go unused.  (I am lazy.  But that is tangential to this story.)

A man and his female companion approached me tentatively, his larrikin charm warding off any ill will I might otherwise feel at my reverie being interrupted.

"Excuse me," he said.  "Is this where we get the four?"

From the way he dropped his Rs I could tell he was a fellow Australian.

"Are you going uptown or downtown?" I asked.  The response didn’t matter — the 4 and 5 trains all depart from the same platform.  But my point of clarification made me sound more like a resident of New York.  A person who belonged here.  Not some tourist.

"Uptown," he said.  "Yankee Stadium."

I took note of his Yankees cap and Yankees shirt and felt sheepish. His face also betrayed the merest hint of recognition — he could hear from my accent that I was probably from the same country.  Maybe even the same city.  Perhaps we’d both been to Bondi Beach on the same day and felt the same grains of sand between our toes.  But all this passed between us in unspoken acknowledgment.

"Well then," I said confidently, eager to display my extensive knowledge of he city’s transit system.  "You need to go upstairs."

Wrong.  This was wrong.  But I was so caught up in the subtext that tied us together — the tangy smell of the sea; the fact that our feet probably had the same V-shaped tan lines from wearing flip-flops to the corner store in summer — that I just said the first thing that came to me.

He thanked me and lead his girlfriend upstairs, where they would find the uptown 6.  I leaned against a girder thinking of home.  And then I realized.  But he was gone.

I’m sorry.  I hope you got to see the Yankees.

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I was in the heart of marathon training and was nearing the perimeter of Central Park about to start my daily run when a German family (how did I know? The dad had sandals with black socks) stopped me to ask:

We are trying to find Cleopatra’s Needle. Can you help us?

My confidence in my neighborhood knowledge was peerless. But I was confused. It was probably 8:30 AM and when you live on 92nd & Broadway like I did, you’d be intimately familiar with Cleopatra’s Needle, but it was quite unclear why this pleasant family would want to go to a Jazz bar/restaurant on a weekday morning. But it was not my place to judge, so I sent them thusly:

Uh… okay, well, turn around, head to Broadway and up to 92nd street and there you will find Cleopatra’s Needle. But, uh, I’m pretty sure it isn’t going to be open right now, but I’m positive, that is where it is.

What they found: http://www.bigapplejazz.com/Jan17_13.JPG 
Months passed before I learned that Cleopatra’s Needle was actually an ancient Egyptian Obelisk that I had seen hundreds of times, but never known the name of; I was horrified. 
I still feel guilty every single time I run past it. 

I was in the heart of marathon training and was nearing the perimeter of Central Park about to start my daily run when a German family (how did I know? The dad had sandals with black socks) stopped me to ask:

We are trying to find Cleopatra’s Needle. Can you help us?

My confidence in my neighborhood knowledge was peerless. But I was confused. It was probably 8:30 AM and when you live on 92nd & Broadway like I did, you’d be intimately familiar with Cleopatra’s Needle, but it was quite unclear why this pleasant family would want to go to a Jazz bar/restaurant on a weekday morning. But it was not my place to judge, so I sent them thusly:

Uh… okay, well, turn around, head to Broadway and up to 92nd street and there you will find Cleopatra’s Needle. But, uh, I’m pretty sure it isn’t going to be open right now, but I’m positive, that is where it is.

What they found: http://www.bigapplejazz.com/Jan17_13.JPG 

Months passed before I learned that Cleopatra’s Needle was actually an ancient Egyptian Obelisk that I had seen hundreds of times, but never known the name of; I was horrified. 

I still feel guilty every single time I run past it.