Sitting in Bryant Park the other day, I was blinded by the sea of pasty white flesh. Shirtless elderly men, waiting for their turns at the bocce courts, straddled the lawn chairs backwards, the wide expanses of their wrinkled backs exposed to the sun. Business women lounged in their lacy camisoles, but only after carefully folding their suit jackets over the backs of a nearby vacant chairs.
As I scanned the crowd, my eyes came to rest upon an unassuming woman I’d place in her early sixties. She had close-cropped gray hair and wore a soft beige, sleeveless jersey dress, the color nearly indistinguishable from that of her exposed arms. The sleeves of her beige sweater encircled her waist. Demure drop earrings and a shiny metal watch were the only jewelry she wore.
She had commandeered a whole section of chairs. In addition to the one supporting her beige-clad rump, she’d lined up two more chairs to support her outstretched legs and bare feet. An overturned beige Sak purse occupied the chair to her left. She absentmindedly rifled through the spilled contents in search of something elusive, but not important enough to demand her full attention. To her right, a pair of beige sandals rested in the shadow of yet another chair.
Perched just above the curve on her aquiline nose sat a pair of photo-gray glasses, dark in the afternoon sun. Despite their protection, the woman still squinted against the bright light as she read the newspaper in her hand. She ‘d already finished the arts section and had folded herself a newspaper cap, which she wore on her head at a rakish angle.
Every now and again, the soft breeze jostled the the canopy of trees above me, showering me with a cascade of tiny petals and pollen. As if the breeze somehow contained some silent cue, the inhabitants of the park all tilted their heads back in unison, a communal worship of the sun. I let my shoulders sink, my head loll, and wondered at the bright red backs of my eyelids.
I don’t care how hot it is. I never want summer to end.