Walking The Line

Sunny Hoboken
Sunny Hoboken

Another beautiful day in Hoboken – in fact I think we reached a record high.  Sadly, my energy did not match the day.  I could have easily laid in bed watching Lifetime made-for-tv movies and drooling all day.  But seeing as the day was destined to be gorgeous, and my days of making out with Hoboken are somewhat limited, I put on a bra, gathered my park paraphernalia and hit the streets.

After a mere four blocks I realized my booty would not be trekking all the way down town to Pier A – our big spread of green out over the always April fresh Hudson river.  I decided instead to hanker down at Elysian Field – where the very first game ever of baseball was played.  If those players had been there today I would have done something to disrupt the forming of America’s favorite sport.  Actually, I don’t have a problem with baseball per se.  In fact I tried really hard to like baseball when Rocco and I first started dating.  I have a problem with 742 Yankee games a year.  And the the 742 Mets games (though I suppose there’s a few overlaps there).  Nothing is that good.  NOTHING.  I don’t even want to watch Twilight 742 times in a single year.  Well…that may be stretching it.

While there was a couple playing catch near the little tuft of grass I staked out for myself, there was no batting nor organized game that I could see.  I put in the headphones, whipped out the sketchpad, and proceeded to enjoy the weather.  Before long, a random purple strap with black plastic buckles slid across my blanket and I was engulfed in a cloud of patchouli.  I looked up as this birkenstock wearing dude walked away from me and towards the nearest tree – dragging his pile of purple straps behind him.

I’ve seen some pretty interesting things hanging in the park over the past few years.  As I was developing a wicked crick in my neck from laying on my stomach while trying to sketch, I decided to flip over and arrange myself to see the show.  I’d even brought snacks!

While I got situated, so did Patchouli Dude and his Slightly Less Zen buddy.  Patchouli Dude was clearly the man with the plan and I suspect Slightly Less Zen followed him around with cartoon hearts in his eyes on a regular basis.  Patchouli Dude wrapped the purple strap around one tree and tightened the buckles as tight as possible.  Slightly Less Zen wrapped his strap to the other tree and they somehow hooked everything together.  Then the both of them (with much grunting and what appeared to be interpretive dance) managed to pull the strap between the trees taught.  When they were done (and giggling a little madly), the strap hung about waist high.  Slightly Less Zen sat on the strap, and slowly eased his feet off the ground.  When supporting his entire body weight, the strap was still six to ten inches off the ground.  He looked at Patchouli Dude imploringly and adoringly.  Patchouli Dude nodded and kicked of his birkenstocks.

A small crowd was starting to gather, but I had the sweetest seat by far.  Patchouli Dude went first.  He placed a naked foot on the buckle, right up against the tree trunk, then catapulted himself up onto the strap.  Slightly Less Zen actually squealed and clapped his hands feverishly while hopping up and down just a foot away.  Patchouli Dude started slowly walking across the strap towards the other tree.

Yes.  Tightrope walking.  Practicing in the park.  I can honestly say I’ve never met a tight rope walker before.  An aerialist, a glass blower, a lion tamer even, but never a tight rope walker.

Patchouli Dude made it probably five feet before falling off.  I thought Slightly Less Zen might lose consciousness from hyperventilating.  “Oh my god – MY GAWD!!!” he kept panting.  Patchouli Dude ate that shit up.  He’d smile shyly while putting up his hand in that “no really, I am just a simple man” kind of way that politicians and Brad Pitt use.

He walked back to the tree, put his foot on the buckle, his hand on the trunk, and jumped up again.  This time he talked to Slightly Less Zen as he inched across the strap.  He offered pointers and shared his tricks as Slightly Less Zen mirrored his every move on the grass.  This time he jumped down gracefully at the trunk of the other tree.  I was getting a little nauseous.

Slightly Less Zen decided to have a go.  Slightly Less Zen was also slightly less fit and significantly less coordinated.  He earns at least twenty points in my book for determination and courage, however.  There was no leaping up at the first tree.  There was some scrambling, and some boosting, and some falling, some dusting off, some trying again, and some finally standing on the buckle while clinging to the tree trunk for dear life.  God bless him.  I had of course snarfed on my water from trying to hide my laughter and was sneezing as a result of the beverage in my nose.

Slightly Less Zen managed to turn around so his back was against the trunk and his arms flung behind him in a bizarre embrace.  He reminded me of a chunkier and less buxom figurehead on a ship’s prow.  Slowly he leaned forward, released the tree, and began to inch forward.  Of course he didn’t make it far.  Maybe three whole steps before he was back on the ground.  To his credit, he was impressed with his own accomplishment.  Then immediately went back to fawning over Patchouli Dude.

Patchouli Dude launched himself back onto the strap and resumed his diatribe on the skills and grace that tight rope walkers posses, cataloguing the long list of attributes that made him a particularly gifted tight rope walker.  Yawn.  I’m a little surprised he could balance with a head so ginormous.  This went on for a good thirty minutes.  During that entire time he didn’t give Slightly Less Zen another crack at trying.  I was really rooting for him at this point and wanted to see him kick some Patchouli ass!

Slightly Less Zen made some comment about how great it would be to someday be as talented as Patchouli Dude.  Again with the shy smile and hand wave.  Groan.  Then Patchouli Dude and his gigantic head decided to try some crazy move where he crouched down on one leg with the other one extended straight out in front of him.  Slightly Less Zen of course ooohed and awwwed appropriately.

And then Patchouli Dude lost his balance.

Maybe it was due to the dramatic increase in his head’s circumference.  Maybe it was karma.  Maybe it was a breeze.  Maybe it was because of my silently willing him to fall with my entire being.

There was much weaving, then he toppled and had to place both feet on the ground.  On either side of the strap.  Which then snapped back up with tremendous force into his…

…wait for it…


The crowd immediately dissipated as Patchouli Dude pushed the strap away from his balls and Slightly Less Zen rushed to his aid.  After a few moments, Slightly Less Zen sat on the strap and Patchouli Dude managed to raise his leg high enough to step over the strap and get both his legs on the same side.  Patchouli Dude hobbled over to a park bench and sat down while Slightly Less Zen removed the straps from the trees.  I picked back up my sketch pad and tried to look absorbed in my drawing and completely unamused.

After another five minutes or so, the dynamic duo shuffled by my blanket with the purple straps a dragging.  I suspect something else will be purple in the morning.


  1. what you’ve described here is slackrope walking. tightropes are… well, tighter. they’re made of sterner stuff, don’t sag as much under your weight, and are guyed to a fare-thee-well to minimize side-to-side movement.

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