It is Saturday morning. POB (partner of blogger) went to the gym at an ungodly hour that would shame me if I were susceptible to being shamed. TLP (our son, the little prince) is subjecting me to Pokemon and Bakugan while there is a perfectly good Phineas and Ferb show on Cartoon Network. I love Phineas and Ferb, in fact I DVR the show for POB and me. TLP is only sort of into it. (Ok, enough back story for a different blog entry).
My blackberry ran out of juice just before it was my turn for torture in the name of fitness. This meant that I was going for a run without any telecommunication devices. POB and I had to plan ahead and decide when and where I would meet her and TLP for a picnic in Central Park after the run.
Old style planning. Never-heard-of planning for an entire generation of children.
I walked out of the house, feeling strangely like I lost an anchor. No, not an anchor; actually, a ball and chain. No, not exactly, a ball and chain; more naked. No phone, no texting capabilities, no internet. It is okay if I were actually naked; hey, it is New York, no one would notice. Except that I need a sports bra. That is totally non-negotiable. Good thing the naked feeling was metaphoric and not actual. (Am I digressing? I really can’t tell anymore.)
As I set out, it is just the open road and I. Ok, and city traffic, too, until I get into Riverside Park.
I was running, with a gusto that comes from sticking it to the Man. I cannot be reached. No one can find me. Ha!! I am untethered. Wait. I am the Man (or part of the Man)! Oh, shit. I am (part of) the Man and I can’t find me. Existential nightmares start slamming my brain, even some too weird for Sartre, Camus or Ionesco. The Man is not so bad. Gee, I miss the Man.
Then, what if I get hurt? What if POB or TLP gets hurt and I cannot be reached?
I have to stop running because my hyperventilation has caused cramps and shortness of breath. See? This wouldn’t have been so bad if I had waited for the Man to get powered up and put it in my back pocket for the run. Now, my family is in need and I am turning blue. I am in the Wilderness of Riverside Park. Actually, there is a cafe within view. Ok, Wilderness is a relative term. In New York, if there isn’t a latte available within 3 blocks, that’s wilderness. No lattes at this cafe, so I am in ABJECT WILDERNESS.
Wait, what do I hear? A voice? As in vox clamantis in deserto (a voice cries out in the wilderness)? Is this the moment of my spiritual awakening? (And I am dressed like this?)
Turns out, someone was yelling at me, “Stay in the runner’s lane!!!”
Ok, no spiritual awakening, no kindness of strangers, no nothing. And I am unconnected to everyone. And I cannot even post about this on FaceBook. The horror, the horror. Even Dostoyevsky was able to get out Notes from Underground. Me, I got nothing. No iAnything. No RIM at the edge of the corporate drain. I have my driver’s license, money and a credit card. I could buy some minutes from someone, but who would believe my story? The cops would be called and then I would have to explain my circumstances, and inevitably the response from the officer would be, “you own telecommunication devices and you willfully left them home?” “Officer, yes, I did it willfully but not maliciously — call it, semi-youthful hubris.”
Ok, I can’t breathe from the stress. I am gripping my heart. Vagrants think I am giving them the “strong” sign and they pound their hearts back. Really, really? I am probably having a stress dream and I will wake up. Then I stagger past a long line of people waiting for an opportunity to kayak in the Hudson River even though there was a warning about life-threatening sewage in the water. Ok, even I cannot come up with this stuff. I am awake and my family is in peril and the police are no help and my fellow citizens want to go boating in nuclear waste.
Exhaustion sets in. How will I make it to the appointed meeting place for the picnic. Thank G-d for taxis. I am sweaty from my run/freak-out but he smells like he ran a marathon. At least I know I am not stinking up this cab. I get out a few blocks early to air out. Really. Seinfeld did not lie.
I arrive at the pre-arranged meeting place about five minutes early. I am already apoplectic about the things that could have gone wrong that will upend the rendez-vous. (How DID we survive without this crazy connectivity?) I imagine that POB got a call about her father, my father, her sister, my sister or brother or our nephews. Disaster has struck. I am clueless on 96th and Central Park West. What was I thinking not waiting until my phone recharged? That was sooooo selfish of me. My family is in need and I am standing on a street corner like an idiot.
And . . . tick tock, tick tock, tick tock. . . THEY ARE LATE. They are always late, I tell myself trying to believe it.
I see them across the street. They are smiling and waving. We all hug and kiss and walk together into the Park, to look for a picnic site. POB says, “you look exhausted!!” I say it was a hard run. We smile and hold hands as TLP runs slightly (did I say slightly) ahead to find a good place to plop down for a picnic.
I ask POB, “do you have your iPhone?”
“Yes, why do you ask?”
“No, reason. No reason at all.”