I wanted to laugh. I had no idea why. There was no apparent reason, but I had an inordinate desire to laugh.
It had been a strange day.
By the way, my name is George Haversham. I’m thirty-four years old. I’ve been married twice and divorced twice. I live alone in a two bedroom, two bath apartment in a six story building on 8th Avenue between 14th and 15th Streets in Manhattan. Not the most prestigious address in New York, but convenient to a lot of interesting things in Chelsea to the north and Greenwich Village to the south. And the 8th Avenue bus stops practically in front of my door so I can easily get uptown to the museums or Central Park.
I used to make a lot of money as an accountant and you’d think I’d have nothing left after two divorces, but I was lucky in that respect, both of my wives had their next husbands waiting in the wings so I never had to pay alimony.
I say I used to make a lot of money, but I hated the making of it so I quit being an accountant and now I work in the meat packing district just south of my apartment so I can ride my bicycle to work. It’s mindless work, but it gives me enough money to survive. And the fringe benefit is that the High Line is close enough to enjoy during lunch hour or early evening before I go home.
My apartment is a residual of when I made a lot of money as an accountant, but I told you that, and since I was careful, didn’t have to pay alimony and stayed as an accountant long enough to create a bank balance large enough to only need supplemental income I now manage to live slightly above the Spartan level by Manhattan standards.
Anyway, to get back to my story, I was sitting in my living room enjoying my daily, one, Scotch on the rocks when I suddenly felt this inordinate desire to laugh. I don’t mean to chuckle like we all do when a humorous thought passes through our mind, I mean a full-blown laugh – out loud.
It took me several minutes to finally stop laughing and pull myself together so I could try and figure out why I was laughing.
I thought about the day. It had been a strange day, but hadn’t started out that way. It had actually started out quite normally. Maybe that was it, I thought, maybe it was all too normal.
No, that couldn’t be it. I used to think that being an accountant was boring, but working in meat packing was not only boring, but it was mindless as well. At least it wasn’t as messy as scaling fish which is what I had done initially after leaving accounting.
But with scaling fish or packing meat I knew what the day would be like; like every other day – boring…
Why do I do it? Why didn’t I get a real job? Why didn’t I get a job that made me think, or use some of the education I’d spent so much money to get?
Even a job in a bookstore where I could talk to people who loved books and reading. That would, at least, present the possibility of something interesting happening.
Maybe that was it. Maybe I wanted something that was so mindless I could escape into mindlessness.
Then why did I think today was a strange day?
The morning had passed like every other morning.
It was beautiful and sunny with a cool, comfortable breeze so I’d decided to buy a couple of hot dogs and a Pepsi from the Sabrett cart and take them up on the High Line to eat lunch. The wildflowers were still in bloom and I pretended that I was in Provence having a baguette with cheese and pears and a lovely bottle of French wine.
The reality of being in Manhattan on a pleasant afternoon in the midst of wildflowers was oddly almost as pleasant as the fantasy in France.
Nothing really strange about any of that.
The afternoon until quitting time and bicycle ride home.
Now, at six o’clock, a Scotch on the rocks in hand, I was sitting in my living room and laughing out loud and trying to figure out why I thought today had been a strange day.
I finished the drink and considered pouring a second, but decided against it. I needed to get some dinner and find something to do that evening.
Not wanting to put any strain on my mind dulled by a day in the meat packing district and lulled into tranquility by the Scotch I simply decided to walk toward the Village and let chance play its part with both the culinary and entertainment activities.
I walked east on 14th Street to 6th Avenue and south toward 8th Street in the Village. As I made my way I stopped a couple of times to buy something to eat from the various sidewalk vendors so dinner, or whatever one would call it, became an international hodge-podge of flavors.
Window shopping on 8th Street presented an equally diverse display, but nothing enticing enough to cause me to actually enter the stores.
By ten o’clock I’d had enough of mindlessly wandering. I retraced my steps back to 8th Avenue between 14th and 15th Streets and turned on the television to watch the eleven o’clock News.
The lead story made me sit up and, for the first time that day, truly focus my attention as I watched three llamas who had escaped from the Children’s Zoo in Central Park run around Manhattan, dodging traffic and generally causing absolute chaos for nearly two hours while what seemed like half of the NYPD and other first responders chased the llamas who, whenever anyone got close, scattered in three directions at once with evasionary tactics that rivaled the New York City Ballet for its choreography.
I was laughing out loud as the alarm went off. Time to get up and head down to Wall Street and my accounting office.
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