A day in a big city

A brief business tip to Philadelphia — Philadelphia, big-city wannabe!–reminds me of just what Montgomery is missing.

I arrive in Philly and immediately set out on a city walk — no destination in particular, but plenty of stops along the way, in and out of shops and keeping pace with the vibrant sidewalk traffic.

There are places that sell clothes.  Clothes I wouldn’t mind wearing.  If only I needed to … but, damn! my office wear has degenerated into jeans and capris.  Who knows — I might even appear in shorts one of these days. So no need for those kicky skirts, trendy tops and free-form dresses in the shops along Walnut Street.

There are bikes here, and bicyclists riding alongside cars on the narrow streets.  Mr.  NYer and I have decided that the only way to bicycle in Montgomery is to carefully map out a route that avoids main thoroughfares … forget bike lanes, even the gutters are dangerous.

As if I weren’t already all too aware that life in Montgomery is … different, I was pulled into a bit of romantic espionage that only happens in big cities.  It’s 10:30 when a dozen or so of us arrive at the restaurant for dinner (in Montgomery, even the kitchen staff would have long gone to bed).  I’ve been working the crowd at a donor event and have shaken hands with hundreds of people.  In the car en route to the restaurant, a colleague has convinced me that I’m courting disaster unless I sanitize immediately, so as soon as we hit the restaurant on Rittenhouse Square, I make a beeline for the ladies’ room.

There I happily discover industrial-sized soap dispensers, and wash my hands like they’ve never been washed before.  A quick dash into one of the stalls and I’m back at the sink for a second round of hand-cleaning when a young woman asks if I have a pen.  I do, and dig into my bag for it.  Visibly thrilled, she grabs the pen and begins to write upon a paper towel.  She finishes and approaches me to return the pen.

“Listen,” she says, “I know this sounds strange, but I’m on a blind date and it’s a disaster.”

Three of us turn to hear her tale of woe.

“Well, at least I can tell it’s going nowhere.  My blind date thinks it’s great.”   We nod in unison.  We’ve all been there before.

“And there’s this guy at the bar that I’m really interested in, and I know he’s interested in me.  So would one of you help by giving him my name and number on this towel?”

I don’t know whether I’m appalled by the chicanery, or thrilled to be back in the world where humanity is so densely packed that this kind of thing is a matter of course.  Before I have a chance to nod yes or decline, another bystander steps forward.

“I’ll do it!”  she offers.  The blind date tells us that the object of her desire is sitting at the end of the bar, wearing a suit, finishing a bowl of mussels, and named Brad.  I have no idea how she has obtained this information, but I’m impressed.  I head back to the table just in time to steer the good Samaritan to the right person.

I don’t know if Miss Lonelyhearts every hooked up with Mr. Mussels, but I can tell you I savored this slice of urban life.  A slice you just don’t get in Montgomery.


2 Responses

  1. Just wanted to write to say I absolutely loved this post.

    Look forward to finding out where romances happen to take heart in Montgomery.

  2. Maureen…if I didn’t like my life as much as I do..I think I’d want yours. This sounds exactly like the kind of thing I’d have loved to write down if I’d witnessed it…glad it happened on your watch.

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