Daryl and I had the good fortune of coming out of the Palace Theatre on Times Square last Saturday evening, after enjoying the spectacular “Priscilla – Queen of the Desert,” during a monstrous thunderstorm. After the show, I had silently wondered why the theatre patrons had exited so slowly but thought it was possibly due to the collectors for the Broadway Cares for AIDS program in the lobby. As we rounded the corner down the mezzanine stairs, I understood why the sluggish exodus.
I looked outside and saw torrential rain and wind making Times Square look like an amusement park on steroids. Flashing animated billboards, honking horns, windswept water, lightning and thunder all creating an apocalyptic crescendo of near manic proportions as we began our sidewalk adventure to our destination – the Courtyard Marriott on 40th Street.
As Daryl and I dared to maneuver our way out onto the marquee covered sidewalk, we were immediately swallowed by a sea of umbrellas. A multi-colored calliope of movement as we would raise, then lower, then raise again our own umbrellas to weave our way through stuffed streets of foreign faces and thronged energy. We leapt over flooded intersections as streams of plastic bottles and soaked playbills danced feverishly around clogged street drains. Flashing walk and don’t walk characters told us what to do, as we continued to waft through this hoard of drenched humanity.
We turned off of Broadway and onto a less crowded 42nd Street as the wind fought with our own umbrellas turning them inside out then back again as sidewalk strangers ducked in and out of awning covered buildings. The cold wind sliced at our soaked bodies as we continued to dodge taxis, pedestrians and bold flashes from the sky.
I could not help but notice all of the discarded skeletal umbrellas that were tossed to the sidewalk in crumpled heaps as if they were thrown forcefully from the sky. Lonely handles reaching to us as if we could save them from their hapless fate as flashes of lightening from the echoing heavens highlighted their silver ribs in tortured twists of sizes and shapes. Canvassed covers buried in the splashes of water they were once made to protect.
We ran past Bryant Park as the dark statue of its namesake sat stoically on his seat as if mocking the storms fury. As we turned onto 40th Street, our destination came into view as our breaths grew more rapid and heavy. Sopping into the hotel lobby like two drenched rats, we sloshed and squeaked on the marble floor to the elevators.
Daryl pressed the “UP” button. We stepped in and took our ride to the sky.