[continued from Talk is Cheap, Listening is Free, Good Vibes are Priceless]
Both engrossed in finishing the final Harry Potter book, I interrupted her reading and announced to my roommate, “I think Dumbledore is gay.” She laughed and whole heartedly disagreed with me. She thought my conviction was completely unfounded, absurd. I mentioned my theory to several others, they similarly scoffed. You hippies from San Francisco, you think everyone is gay. Months later when J.K. Rowling confirmed my suspicions, I jumped up and down- “I knew it! No one believed me but I knew it! Best gaydar ever! I’m a detective!”
Since uncovering a fictional wizard’s sexual orientation, I haven’t had much of a reason to use my detective skills. (I’m saying detective skills. You could say it’s just being good at reading a character- a skill I have from reading and playing a lot of characters cause it’s my freakin’ job. Fine, but for the sake of my story, just go with me. Detective skills.) That all changed a few weeks ago. It was the Case of the Awesome Family With the Intriguing Son My Age. I wasn’t Sherlock Holmes for 5th grade Halloween for nothing. I had to solve this mystery, I wanted to catch my man.
I latched on to the three clues I had. #1: California hippy tendencies and good vibes. #2: a mention of John Lennon. #2: the direction they were walking: Uptown. If I was going to find this boy, where was the one place in all of New York City he was likely to be? Elementary, my dear Watson: Strawberry Fields. It was my one and only shot. A shot in hell. Chances were, they wouldn’t still be there by the time I arrived. If they’d ever been there in the first place. But it was something to go on. At the least I’d get a nice walk out of it and the feeling that at least I tried. I walked out the door and headed toward the 72nd entrance of the park.
As I walked, the left and right sides of my brain discussed the situation.
“There’s no way in hell this is going to work.” said the Right Side.
“If there’s anywhere in the world this would work, it’s New York City!” said the Left Side.
“You’re never going to find them! That was nearly an hour ago! You aren’t a detective! Even if they did go to Strawberry Fields, and they probably didn’t, they won’t be there any more! “
“I know it’s a wild goose chase, but there’s a chance!”
“You’re a silly, hopeless romantic.”
“At least I’m not a Negative Nancy!”
“Do you know how much training actual detectives go through? When will you get your head out of the clouds and grow up?”
“I refuse to be boring and complacent ! I’d rather– hey, that girl looks like Maria with shorter hair.”
Both sides of my brain came back together as I noticed a girl walking down the street. She looked like someone I’d gone to college with. Then I noticed the girl walking next to her.
“That is Maria with shorter hair, and she’s with Christine!” Case of the Maria-look-a-like solved! Ha!
I stopped in my tracks. “Hi!” I said aloud.
“Whoa! New York Cliche!” said Maria and Christine, probably in unison. They had been best friends all through college, often joined at the hip. The three of us had taken dozens of theater classes together. We lived in the same apartment building senior year. They had been on my side during major drama (the bad kind) when I was president of the Drama (the good kind) Club. We’d completely lost touch since graduation, but here we all were, walking down 72nd Street.
You know how the conversation went. You’ve had the same one yourself. A quick, “So funny to run into you!” a brief “What have you been up to?” and a “So good to see you!” and we went our separate ways. I love running into people on the streets of the city. I don’t even mind empty promises to hang out soon. As I left Maria and Christine, I smiled. Bumping into people I haven’t seen in years? If nothing else came of this walk, that alone was enough to make it worth it.
I continued toward the park, my eyes peeled for a red hat. My red herring? His mother had been wearing that lovely red beret, lucky because it would be easy for me to spot. I glanced in the shop windows I past. Perhaps, by now, they’d left the park to grab a bite to eat. No red hats to be seen from the windows. The closer I got to the park, the more heads I surveyed, and the sillier I felt. Right Side was winning. I was no detective. I was never going to find them. How often do cases go unsolved? When do you know to give up?
I stopped in front of The Dakota- John Lennon’s last place of residence. No sign of my Good Vibe Family. I snapped a few pictures alongside a group of German tourists. I was getting some pictures out of my walk- that was worth something.
I arrived at the park entrance. Almost at my destination. What if they weren’t there? What if the mystery went unsolved? I braced myself for this, the seeming inevitable. “At least you can say you tried”, I sighed to myself. “Besides, you saw Christine and Maria, you took some pictures, got some exercise. Pretended you were Nancy Drew. There are worse ways to spend an afternoon.”
I walked past the bevy of pedicabs that lie in wait at the parks entrance, shaking my head to each “Tour of Central Park?” inquiry. I’d just taken pictures of The Dakota, even Sherlock himself would think me a tourist. I looked across the path, to a stand selling souvenir pictures of Strawberry Fields and Central Park. Heinously touristy. At least I wasn’t looking at souvenirs, I was still keeping some of my local cool.
The next second, I lost it all. An adorable woman in a red hat and sweater was browsing the souvenirs. Her son, my wild goose, the guy I couldn’t get out of my head, was standing beside her. My mouth dropped open in disbelief. All my cool, gone. The Case of the Missing Good Vibe Family- solved! I was a detective after all! But now that I’d found him…I didn’t know what to do with him.
I had been so consumed with looking for him and the impossibility of it all that I had not, for a minute, considered what to do in the event of actually finding him. There he was and I had no idea what to do. Go up to him and say “Hi, I can’t get you out of my head, I was hoping you’d be here.”? He’d think I was crazy! Suddenly I felt like a stalker. With all my cool gone, I was in full on School-Girl mode. How the hell was I going to play this cool? What was I doing in Strawberry Fields if I wasn’t looking for him? I whipped out my camera, desperate for something to do, any motivation other than my real one…
Taking pictures. For my blog. There. Not so crazy and it wasn’t even a lie!
Did I play it cool? Did I talk to him, or after all that effort, did I chicken out? Did I regain any of my cool? Stay tuned!