Have you ever seen the fruit stand at the corner of West Broadway and Park Place?
The owner, a Syrian gentleman in his mid-40s, sells oranges and pineapples and bananas to commuters. All the while, he sings made-up songs about potassium at the top of his lunges – bringing smiles to the faces of even the grumpiest Monday morning New Yorkers.
I met the vendor – affectionately referred to as “The Banana Man” by professionals in Lower Manhattan – shortly after my office relocated to the Financial District. Twice each day, I’d pass by his perch; twice each day, he’d grab his heart dramatically.
“To the most beautiful woman in New York,” he’d say, clapping as I walked by.
Several months into my new commute, in tandem with the seasonal switch from winter coats to mini skirts, The Banana Man initiated a new tradition. As I rushed by him in the minutes before 9AM, he’d grab my hand, pull me toward him, and kiss the air above my right cheek.
“A morning kiss for the most beautiful woman in New York,” he’d say.
I get it – an air smooch and trite compliment from a man who makes his living passing off papayas to some of the most miserable people on the planet doesn’t give me bragging rights. Call me shallow, call me self-conscious, call me tragic, even – but sometimes a gal just appreciates a tiny dose of daily admiration, especially if she’s constantly getting punched in the ego while clawing her way to the top of a Big Apple hierarchy.
This morning, I popped off the train at Chambers Street, grabbed my morning latte at my favorite shop, and – in the spirit of springtime – very nearly skipped the rest of the way to work. Then, standing on a corner, waiting for my chance to dart across a crosswalk, I watched The Banana Man grab the hand of another woman – a brunette I recognized from the 6th floor of my office building – and theatrically kiss her cheek.
What’s it like dating in New York? A little bit like that. Consider the fact that every man marveling over you is marveling over another woman on the side; as a matter of fact, you could be the one on the side. Consider the fact charm isn’t to be trusted, that exclusivity doesn’t exist, and that chivalry isn’t just dead – it was never alive in the first place.
And consider the fact that there are actually men on street corners singing about why you should eat their bananas. And women actually kiss them