It’s been a brutally hot summer in the city thus far this year. Since I live in digs that are not wired for air conditioning, my queen-sized pillow-topped mattress that usually feels like the comfiest of clouds feels more like a grill pan over high heat these days. Yet who am I to complain about not having had a restful night’s sleep since May? At least I reside walking distance from the oasis that is Central Park.
On Sunday, when the heat and humidity were a millimeter below sweltering, I visited the park with my friend, Lola. We entered, took a wrong turn, almost crossed a triathlon’s finish line, reversed course, grabbed lemonade for her and iced tea for me at the Le Pain Quotidian near Sheep’s Meadow, exchanged yak about how that LPQ must be a goldmine, and then made a beeline for a shady tree where we promptly suffered that familiar middle age malady, CRS (Can’t Remember Shit).
Both of us blanked on the name of the famous landscape architect who designed the park. Lola tried in vain to find the answer that was on the tips of our frozen brains on her iPhone but the Gods of wifi were against us. Later, while I was batting away a bug the size of a hornet, Frederick Law Olmstead’s name popped out from one of the holes in my head. Actually, Olmstead co-designed the park with Calvert Vaux, whose name I did not know until now, but I’m confident that I’ll be brain freezing on him as soon as I finish writing this sentence.
Sheep’s Meadow has often been a sea of sun worshippers. The sheep were relocated in 1934 because (according to Wikipedia):
“There was fear for the sheep’s safety by hungry folk during the great depression. Officials were concerned that starving men would turn the sheep into lunch.”
On this hot and humid afternoon the meadow was not only sheep-less but also relatively empty. It seemed that the shade had more appeal than the pursuit of skin cancer.
While we were sheltered under our tree we discussed the recent death of writer-director-humorist, Nora Ephron.
Me: All that’s left is Joan Rivers and Tina Fey.
Lola: What about Kristin Wiig?
Me: Yes, I do believe I’ve just insulted her and Amy Poehler and Sarah Silverman among others.
Lola: One of my favorite books is Joan’s I Hate Everyone … Starting With Me. The title reminds me of you.
Me: I love that title. I love Joan. I feel honored that you think that.
While we were heading over to watch the players playing in the bocce ball courts, we encountered signs that free comedy was happening very near.
Bocce ball is a very slow game prompting me to suggest:
Me: This is almost as riveting as curling.
We then headed over to catch some free comedy.
The searing heat occupied the best seats, but we did stick around long enough to hear Ophira Eisenberg, a comedian that I had read about in The New York Times in April. Getting to hear her perform her witty brand of topical standup in Central Park was very entertaining. I particularly enjoyed her take about people getting her name wrong and guests visiting her in her fifth floor walk-up in Brooklyn gasping when they reach her door, “Do you do this every day?” Performers like Ophira give me hope that the ranks of funny women are growing.
I left the park with Lola feeling good. When we reached 72nd and Broadway my friend traveled south and I north. Just as I was considering that I’m being a wimp about the heat — summer in New York can be truly wonderful, I crash landed back to reality.
Hopefully, it will cool down soon for all of us out here.