One of the best parts of living in New York City for any length of time is that you invariably meet, and sometimes become friends with, a number of peculiar people, such as staunchly republican prostitutes, cab drivers who believe they are angels, therapists who like to spin during your therapy sessions, and people who yell at you for walking your dog, simply because they don’t like dogs.
Those of us who don’t look strange on paper, still have our quirks, obsessions, and situation-based eccentricities. I, myself, often talk about the characters I’m writing as if they’re real people. I don’t know how to have a conversation if it’s not about my dog, my current projects, or the dates (per state) I’ve been on. I keep a small white and black stick-figure man in my purse. And, I am currently obsessed with stand-up paddle boarding.
This pales in comparison to my friend Nicki’s main focus. Nicki is looking for Bob. Not just any Bob. A specific Bob. Which is sort of like looking for a needle in a haystack – if the haystack is New York, and the needle, some middle-age, balding guy you’ve never met.
“Tom’s not going to tell me the truth about his relationship.” she admits.
“You think?” None of us like Tom. None of us have met him. We don’t like him on principal. Tom’s married.
“I can’t ask his wife. The only other person who knows anything close to the truth is Bob.”
“They say if you stand in Times Square long enough, you’ll run into everyone you’ve ever met,” I offer at our drunk brunch.
It is my perception that everyone’s life follows, more or less, a story genre. My life normally looks like a two-hour holiday episode of a sit-com, with bits of absurdist comedy mixed in. Nicki’s life is a docudrama with simulated footage wrapped around a core of Ally McBeal driven dramedy. She could care less about 2012, politics, and human rights. Nicki’s favorite hobby is herself.
And speculating about Bob.
Bob is her boyfriend’s wife’s boyfriend, often referred to by her boyfriend Tom as the Hairless Wonder, which is how Nicki knows that he’s bald.
“How are you going to find him?”
“I’m going to look.”
I am no stranger to coincidence, luck, and magic, but even I am skeptical.
She’s on her third Bloody Mary.
“I mean, how many bald men named Bob could there be?” She shoots me an imperious look over her highball glass.
“In this city?”
“Full-bald, comb-over bald, or shaved bald?”
She thoughtfully chews her soggy stick of celery.
“I think I’m going to submit my dog to that Dogs in the City show,” I add, filling in the gap of silence.
“She barks in dogs’ faces. She hates children.”
“He lives in Chelsea.”
“How do you know?”
She shrugs. “I just know.”
“Did I tell you about the animation thing I’m working on?”
“The wish thing?”
She sucks down her drink. “Keep them coming,” she tells the waiter.
It’s going to be a long afternoon.
“Hey,” she catches the waiter as he deposits drinks on the table. “You know a bald guy named Bob?”
I hide my head in my hands. This is a grown-up version of Where’s Waldo, with no Waldo in the picture.
The waiter pauses for a moment, eyes shifting to the right, flipping through the rolodex in his mind. He’s about twenty-two. I doubt he knows anyone who’s bald or balding. “I don’t think so.”
“See,” she says. “War by attrition.”
“You’re going to ask 8 million people if they know him?”
“Not everyone would know him.”
“How do you know who would know him?”
“I just know.”
How I wish the waiter would bring us the check.
You know how I can tell that my life is a sit-com? Next, she invites me to look for Bob with her.
And I ask if I can bring my dog.
And she says yes.