Wednesday, April 22, 2009

I left the convention at a little past noon and rode the elevators down and down. The hotel featured vast expanses of carpeted floor in various configurations: mezzanine, foyer, ballroom, auditorium. Signs on easels advertised the rooftop bar. You would not know that there were any rooms.

I emerged into Times Square, the vexing tangle of barkers, vendors and distracted tourists. I drifted out onto the island in the confluence of Broadway and Seventh, the calm eye of the storm. It was there I saw one of those things you hardly give a second thought unless you decide to. A brawny man wearing nothing but cowboy boots, a cowboy hat and skintight briefs held two slightly prepubescent girls in backwards headlocks. Their smiling faces peered out at their delighted parents from beneath his armpits. Daddy got the camera ready while mommy looked on approvingly. The cowboy widened his stance, staring south, a grim and purposeful expression on his face. The girl on his right had rested her left hand on his haunch. He took her by the wrist and lowered her open hand onto his right ass cheek with the judicious deliberation of a bomb squad technician. The girl squealed with glee as daddy snapped away. A garish, red-white-and-blue guitar dangled from the cowboy's neck and bounced lightly on his groin. On it was written "Naked Cowboy."

It's funny the things we accept, the things we do, if they seem sanctioned in some kind of way.