You see a lot of strange things in New York City. Sometimes, those strange things frighten you. Sometimes, those strange things delight you.
Take a pigeon, for example. Pigeons are ubiquitous in New York City. You see them everywhere, and you barely notice them. But pigeons can surprise you.
One day, you might be walking down the street with a colleague. This colleague has recently moved to New York City, and they're not familiar with pigeons. So you're walking down the street together, and you see a pigeon. No big deal, right? Except, actually, it's a very big deal. Your colleague, this recent NYC transplant, is terrified of pigeons. Your colleague screams and runs from this pigeon.
Another day, you might be walking down the street, on your way to brunch. Let's say you're strolling somewhere on the Lower East Side. Perhaps you make a turn onto Rivington or Stanton. Suddenly, you see a pigeon. No big deal, right? Well, the thing is, this pigeon does something you've never seen before. This pigeon, this bird that you take for granted, the same way you barely notice the squirrels and the finches, this pigeon glides over a chain link fence, with the grace and style of an Olympian jumping hurdles.
Like pigeons, brunch is everywhere in New York City. You go to brunch enough times, and you begin to take brunch for granted. Everyone serves poached eggs, and all the poached eggs taste fine. Everyone serves mimosas, and all the mimosas taste fine. But one day, while eating brunch, you witness something very strange. And to this day, you still think about this brunch.
It's not the food you think about. In fact, you don't remember what you ate, although it was probably poached eggs and mimosas. You do remember the restaurant. Sadly, the place is now closed, like so many wonderful restaurants in New York City.
You know the time of year. It was around Christmas.
Around Christmas some years ago, you went to brunch, and while you ate your poached eggs and drank your mimosa, you watched two people exchange gifts in the restaurant. Seeing people exchange gifts is not unusual. In fact, you saw this happen just yesterday, in another restaurant, which is what made you remember this particular brunch experience.
The strange thing about these two people exchanging gifts? These two people continued exchanging gifts for a good half hour. Each person had a large bag next to their chair, and they took turns pulling out gifts for one another. One of them gave a candle to the other one. One of them gave a poster to the other one. Then Turkish towels. Perfume. Lotions. Books. So many gifts.
Does this strange thing frighten you? Or delight you? On the one hand, it's wonderful to witness this exchange between two people who seem to care a great deal for one another. On the other hand, why so many gifts? Isn't one gift enough? And why this public display of excessive gift giving?
You see a lot of strange things in New York City. Sometimes, you don't know what you're seeing exactly. Sometimes, you can't forget the strange thing you saw.