Ogling the Passers-By February afternoon, 65 degrees, and the security guards at my office are at their favorite fair weather pastime--chain-smoking and ogling the myriad beautiful women that walk through Midtown Manhattan. It is possible to fall in love in this city roughly 50 times a day, and these guys stand outside making sure they don't miss a single one.
They're respectful about it, as much as you can be when you spend your afternoons staring intently at someone's chest as they walk towards you, shifting your gaze a foot south as they pass. There are no catcalls, and they try to keep their conversation on the assets of the passers-by sotto voce as much as possible.
They're decent guys, more or less, and while I've never been a member of their crew, I've spent many a cigarette break chatting with them as they compiled their catalogue and compared notes.
But let's talk about Ricky in particular--I've talked to him the most--an immigrant from the Dominican Republic, Ricky is in his mid-40s, divorced, with two kids. I've helped him buy tickets for his daughter's trip to London, we talk about politics, about his dream of being certified to carry a gun so he can get higher paying security jobs, and, of course, shared a lot of simple declarative sentences about the weather. I try to keep conversation light, since there's not much you can say during a smoke break, but also because Ricky speaks in elliptical heavily-accented English and is pretty much incomprehensible most of the time. I spend a lot of time pausing to review what he said before responding--don't want to end up wearing the proverbial pirate's shirt, after all.
Okay. That's Ricky. Back to this freak February day. It's prime ogling weather, and the guys are making the most of it.
She walks by, and there is a respectful silence, until one breathes a quiet "Beautiful! She knows how to walk with that ass--watch it just flow back and forth."
Ricky scoffs. "Too young. I'm 45 and divorced, and I just don't need young girls like that anymore." Surprisingly, the others do not mock him for just claming he doesn't want to sleep with beautiful 20-year old women--they do back off a little, though. Perhaps I didn't shun him as much as the others, so he shifts in so he's only really talking to me now.
"How old are you? 25?"
"Oh, you're still young!" And that's when he speeds up and I start to lose him. "Still young peas and carrots, ugamumble and fucking peas and carrots to you."
"Have you ever ugamumble, I believe it's called a menage a trois. Two women at once, a menage a trois, have you?"
Did I just hear that right? He can't have just asked me that?
"When I was your age, 21, 22, I would peas and carrots, ugamumble. I loved it, I did it as much as I could, peas and carrots, five or six at ugamumble."
Did he just say he'd done a menage a trois five or six times, or with five or six people at once? Wouldn't that be a menage a cinq? I certainly can't ask for clarification on this. I wish he'd slow down!
"Ugamumble peas and carrots, peas and carrots good times, peas and carrots one sucking on your balls while the other ugamumble peas and carrots."
A heavily made-up NY-thin co-ed walks by, and all conversation halts a moment while four heads turn in unison, like the spectators watching a tennis match in slo-mo. Ricky sighs. "You gotta take care of it while you're young, right my friend?"
"Of course," I say, happy to have a sentence I can finally understand and respond to safely. "But I gotta get back to work. Have a good weekend, man."