“I, being a devout sensualist, looking for thrills wherever I may unearth one, have become adept at switching perspectives, a mental skill I practice in order to tolerate the occasionally intolerable. It occurred to me that this might be an opportunity to put my skills to the test, converting a simple stroll to the bank into an erotic journey to an imaginary land where everyone lives in a perpetual state of sexual ecstasy.”—Ross Konikoff
West Side Stories
By Ross Konikoff
MANHATTAN New York—(Weekly Hubris)—July 2018—No, literally. I was on tour, staying at the ritzy Ritz Carlton Hotel, a beautiful place to wash your shirts in the bathtub to avoid paying a $15 per shirt fee to the hotel laundry.
Having concluded my show business in town, I was in pursuit of a Citibank branch in which to safely park my paycheck. The concierge informed me that the closest was a mere four blocks away, “down this street, turn left at that street, go three more blocks and you’ll see it on the left.” What he didn’t tell me was that each block slopes to an almost 45-degree pitch, either upwards or downwards, an angle that provides the local cobblers, heart surgeons, and undertakers with incredible growth opportunities.
One curious result of such a radical variance in topography however, is that while out navigating the city streets, anyone attempting to carry on a conversation sounds as though his words are being gasped out while in the throes of orgasm. Not unlike the heavy breathing scenes in the movie “Gravity” with Sandra Bullock, as she is being flung about the universe (tracks which I am certain were recorded during several nights of intense lovemaking with her significant other, making it my favorite movie of that year) every conversation sounds as though it is taking place between passionate lovers engaging in the absurd choreography of love.
I, being a devout sensualist, looking for thrills wherever I may unearth one, have become adept at switching perspectives, a mental skill I practice in order to tolerate the occasionally intolerable. It occurred to me that this might be an opportunity to put my skills to the test, converting a simple stroll to the bank into an erotic journey to an imaginary land where everyone lives in a perpetual state of sexual ecstasy. I decided to strike up a conversation with the next pretty girl I saw, ask for directions, and see just how acutely developed my perspective-shifting skills had become. It wasn’t a minute before I spotted my mark.
Approaching was a lovely, headphone-adorned teen-aged Asian beauty, deeply immersed in her favorite music, possibly Frank Sinatra singing “I’ll Never Smile Again,” but more likely Lil Wayne singing “Bitches Love Me.”
As she approached, I signaled that I was in need of information. Cheerfully smiling, but refraining from removing her headphones, she stopped, awaiting my question.
“Would you possibly be able to direct me towards the Citibank?” I asked in a loud voice.
She thought for a moment, and then yelled back, “Sorry, not know there.”
I laughed and announced, “I am new here, myself and, I must admit, walking around this city is very hard. It takes so long to find things.”
Still panting from her walk, she hollered back, “Yes, it very long and hard.” Just then, a young man with a wife and two children, walking directly behind me, overheard that last snippet of her end of the conversation and stopped, obviously waiting to hear more while clumsily pretending to adjust some strap holding down one of his offspring. From their position, my words were not quite as audible as hers and I realized they might be getting the wrong impression. I pretended not to notice, but changed the subject, hoping to lessen the probability of any further inflammatory responses.
“This weather is so hot, as soon as you go outside, you go right back in. And it rains every morning!” I shouted jovially.
Breathing heavily, she bellowed, “Yes, go in and out . . . hot and wet.”
“Sir? Excuse me, SIR?” the man behind me demanded, practically shaking in anger as I continued ignoring him.
“I can imagine a person with a busy schedule must be running in and out all day long!” I screamed, smiling.
Taking a deep breath, she boomed out rhythmically, “All day, in and out, hot and wet,” like a hearing-impaired erotic cheerleader.
The couple, now assuming the worst, seemed barely able to contain their outrage and utter contempt for me. In one last attempt to dispel their mistaken notion, I tried again to redirect the conversation.
“Is this your first vacation to San Francisco?” I shrieked.
She replied in a throaty roar, “I come many times . . . every time hot and wet.”
“Yes, well, it was nice talking with you. Goodbye,” I said, quickly walking off before the young father decided to take matters of justice into his own hands. As I trotted along, I glanced back at the couple, both sputtering with anger, having seemingly turned on each other, exchanging the vilest of insults as the children sat in their twin stroller, screaming in terror.
I sped away, leaving the family in emotional turmoil but, after all, how could I possibly explain to the police that something as benign as a perspective-shifting experiment had escalated into what appeared to be an older man soliciting sexual favors from a minor?
I hightailed it to the bank, turning up my collar on the way in order to obscure my identity should I encounter that same family returning from an emergency session with their therapist. With my check now safely watched over by the FDIC, I jumped into the first taxi I saw and retreated back to the lavish comfort and discreet anonymity of the Ritz. I’d had enough perspective for one day. I like to walk, and I like breathing hard, but not both at the same time.