Sunday

Games of Chance

For the average person, there is no connection between the following: Rabbit, Alopecia, Oral sex. But now, for me, there is.

In New York, I don't see as many strange things as someone might think. For the most part everything is within the limits of normal, though there is the occasional weirdo/wacko. What I have been finding is happening much more frequently is that I encounter people from my past. Foreigners to me, at this point, sometimes who exist in a memory so obscure that nothing outside of their face is recognizable. But it happens to me multiple times in a week.

Today, I was walking to my car. Standing on the opposite street corner were a man dressed plainly, with long hair and large black-framed glasses, and an incredibly tall woman who looked like a Russian model. I crossed the street so that I was at the corner diagonal to them, and I turned my head for a second look. They were joined by a man in a bunny suit.

The man in the bunny suit was waving at me, which was hilarious and simultaneously slightly unnerving. I turned forward, to figure out if I was the person he was waving at. I was. I turned back to him. He was waving again. The other two joined him in beckoning me over. I said, "This is the strangest thing I've seen in some time."

When I got over to them, they asked me if I would take a photo with them. I said, "What for?"

"The Look Book."

"OK. Let me put my things down."

I put down what little I was holding and I stood between two people, the likelihood of whose personal space I would ever enter was individually next to nothing, so putting them together made me nothing short of confused. A Russian model had taken my arm (the woman was easily a foot and a half taller than I), and a man in a bunny suit had his arm around me. I smiled, wondering what kind of smile a man in my position wears. What kind of smile should I have been wearing? Was I manifesting it properly for them? I wanted to make sure I did it right. But then I just thought about who was on either side of me, sure that that would give them the smile they were looking for.

As I walked away, the woman was howling with laughter, saying it was amazing. I turned over my shoulder and asked if it had come out alright.

"Yeah, it's great. You wanna see it?" Asked the guy who had snapped the photo.

While he showed me the photos (which were, in fact, sensational, if only in content), I asked about the look book. He said something about fashion. I can't remember what he said now. It doesn't matter.

Tonight, I got home and remembered the bizarre situation in which I'd found myself. I searched Google for "look book." And I stumbled upon the Look Book, a portion of the New York Magazine website. I searched through the entries half-mindedly, not sure what I was looking for. At the bottom of the page was a funny picture of a bald girl with huge sunglasses. To the left, the caption, "Stephanie Rainer*, receptionist."

I was stopped dead in my tracks.

I know Stephanie Rainer. And it was even more bizarre to be seeing a photo of her, because I had just had a casual thought about her recently (also recently I'd had a casual thought about a girl named Nikki with whom I'd spoken once in the past two years or so, and she sent me a text message within a day of that thought. Synchronicity is a strange thing that, supposedly, is happening more frequently these days...). But to be seeing her on this website, that was bizarre.

I went to camp with Stephanie Rainer. I was very young, and camp for me was partly a place to explore the wild, confusing, disgusting yet intriguing world of sex. Not actual intercourse, but all of the wet bits leading up to it. One fateful day of spin the bottle led to an act of fellatio with Stephanie Rainer.

I went to school with a boy named Zach back then, with whom I also went to camp. He knew about this interaction, and he managed to tell many of my friends the following fall that I'd received oral sex from a girl who had no hair. You can imagine what this did for my self esteem for some time to come. A select few still remember this fact about me.

The crazy part is, I never knew why she didn't have hair. After people stopped crying from laughing so hard when they heard that this had happened, the next question was inevitably, "Why doesn't she have hair?" I didn't have an answer. I knew she didn't shave her head; it was too shiny and smooth. Most people suggested that she must, then, have cancer. I couldn't think of another explanation, so I figured they were right. I then thought it insensitive of me to have never given her my sympathy.

As time wore on and I watched Arrested Development, I came to the conclusion that she suffered from Alopecia, because I'd seen her many years after I stopped going to camp, and she was just as fine as ever, so I knew she couldn't have had cancer. But reading this article, she SPECIFICALLY ADDRESSED her hairlessness as being caused by alopecia.

The obscurity! The... the... FUCK! How do these things happen? Why? Who is in charge here? I want to speak to the manager! I can't even put into words what a peculiar domino effect this is. And this is the part where you start asking yourself, "Jesus, what is the point of all this raving? Where's the conclusion to this story? This isn't literature. This is filth." Well, you're right! I thought of ending it with something witty like, "And THAT'S why you don't talk to men in bunny suits on the streets of Brooklyn." But would that really be appropriate? Wouldn't you feel cheap, like a low-paid prostitute doing obscene things? I can't do that to you. I can't waste your time and then cheapen the whole thing with a throw-away line. So I won't.

What I will say is this. Things have happened here, strange coincidences, that are nothing short of psychotic. What is extraordinary about Manhattan is that it's almost like a black hole. It has an intense gravity, and things keep entering it. They get packed in tighter and tighter, never stopping. People from the past show up, because light starts bending very peculiarly at the center, and so time functions in an altogether new way. People are here because they couldn't escape the event horizon. The streets are a stage for a very peculiar kind of theater that is being played every day. And I'm starting to think that I have too much time on my hands, and am ending up with front-row tickets to this show every day.



*I have changed the name of the person about whom this is actually written, because, well, she probably doesn't want me to say this.