Tragedy Plus Time
When Bad Things Happen to Funny People
by Kate Tellers
It’s a truth as old as pi, tragedy plus time equals comedy. In this column I take my bumps, my bads and my beastlies to show you that, with a little bit of time, that milk that spilled is just as good as the proverbial banana peel.
A soothsayer once said, “Beware the ides of March” and Caesar did not. I, like the great statesman, ignored wise words once. “Lady! Lady over here!” fell on deaf ears. And, too, it was brutal.
Here’s what happened in one New York minute.
I’m just six months into my life in NYC and already I’ve hit my stride. I’m taking classes, auditioning and singing with a band. I’ve got a job in Times Square where the man in the breakfast cart greets me by (the) name (of my coffee). I strut out of my day job in my Jackie O. sunglasses, macramé bag and the wrap skirt I scored from a thrift store in Pittsburgh. It’s an unusually warm day for March and the catcall from the hot dog man on 45th street further convinces me that this first spring is going to be particularly feverish.
A cabbie lays on his horn as I pass him crossing Broadway. I laugh. I’ve got the right of way and the right to walk this way. I wink at a mounted policeman. It’s our city, right man? Right.
She approaches me, a short woman with one leg a hair longer than the other. It’s unclear to me whether or not she’s homeless, but it’s apparent that wherever she lays her head it is nowhere near a brush. Or a dentist. “Lady, lady!” she yells. She lifts her bony arm and waves in my direction. Me? Not me. I strut on towards Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.
I pause to consider a slice of broccoli pizza but reconsider. Four bucks is too much for this girl when there’s two-dollar wonton soup in Queens. She calls out again. “Lady, lady over here!” Out of the corner of my eye I can see her hobbling quickly in my direction.
I pause under the guitar at the Hard Rock Café to check my phone. A delivery man nearly clips me with his bike. “Mamasitaaaaaa!” decrescendos as he speeds away.
Just as I am about to enter the subway at 42nd street I feel her cold hand on my shoulder. “Lady, lady!” I stop. She waves her hand by my back. “Lady, your skirt open.” I reach behind me and realize that my purse has pulled the two sides of my wrap apart. “See all your butt!”
I slowly turn around to face the lights of Broadway. I have shown my moon to the Great White Way. And my people, they are laughing.