I’d badly needed a new printer cartridge, except I couldn’t remember the word cartridge. My mind kept replacing it with ribbon from the typewriter ribbons I’d used for sixty years – and then I’d chastise myself.
Maybe the reason I forget cartridge is because I’m an anti-gun zealot? Nah. Wherever memory is stored in me, the Thief of Time has mercilessly pillaged. If only I could forget that I was losing my long-term memory, I’d be happier.
So, carrying the carefully wrapped, old, spent cartridge (in case I forgot its name) I set out for Staples on Union Square, a pleasant walk from my home. The day was mild but very gray with showers threatened in the forecast. Nonetheless, purposefully, I, in my shabby, non-waterproof, suede shoes, undertook the mission. I like to live dangerously.
I could see crowds up ahead and as I drew closer to the Square I began to hear faint music, not martial music, but happy, rollicking, strident music. Fourteenth Street was jammed with baby carriages especially all along the curb and most pedestrians didn’t seem to be going anywhere. These were not shoppers. They were standers, talkers, idling, peering about happily, eating street food, waiting. For what – on May 18th?
It was too late for May Day and too early for Decoration Day. Ah, I’ll watch too, I decided, disregarding the occasional sporadic rain spritzes. A young blond woman was standing near me. “What’s the occasion?” I asked her. She smiled vaguely and shook her head. “I think it’s some kind of parade — I’m going to wait and see. Come, there’s room. Have half a wastebasket rim. Join me. I wish I could offer you a seat.”
“Thanks,” I said as she moved over a bit, creating a niche for me. “I’m fine,” I assured her. “The legs are the last to go.”
I had a whole half of the trash basket as my territory!
And so for the next two hours, I stood with her and watched the most joyous unmilitary parade ever.
The participants did not march; they didn’t know how; they were all relatives of Terpsichore! Shod magically, hundreds of them dancing on unicycles or skates, manipulating various large balls, or hoops or stalking and whirling on stilts, amazing troupes of children intricately stepping along and then a multitude of others all, ages and ethnicities, clad in flamboyant costumes and in black velvet glistening with rhinestones, hordes of lovely young women dancing with wonderful bright shawls and scarves. Sound trucks blasted music as the marchers vigorously and sometimes very intricately danced past. All kinds of costumes and a huge variety of dances: gymnastic, rhythmic, feat-performing: on skates, on spike heeled slippers, balancing, swinging, shimmying; the pure intensity of their pride evident. It was a marvelous celebration of rhythm.
The traffic police kept things under control and were vigilant with the dancing children. Sporadic rain pelted us; it was inconsequential; no one noticed.
As a climax, the dancers suddenly materialized gifts for the spectators! Magically, their necks and arms were laden with large bright ropes of silver and gold beads. They broke ranks to slip in and out among us, smiling and dropping the gleaming circlets over our willing heads.
Traffic slowly began to move and my trash-basket companion and I said goodbye. But before I left, I had to know more. In today’s world, you don’t get any entertainment without a commercial. So I asked the nearest cop directing traffic, “What was the parade for?”
“For?” He grinned. “ Couldn’t you tell? For Dance! They were just celebrating dance!”
“Thanks,” I said, happy that I live in the most wonderful city on earth. I was ready to two-step home. But first, I, resplendent in my new gold necklace, waltzed into Staples to buy my whatever they call it!