Lame Adventure 364: Favorite 4-letter F-word

Yes, that word is indeed free. The one that rhymes with luck is a close second. This is a Lame Adventure that touches on both, free and luck, but first some roundabout way of getting to where we’re going.

The current issue of Time Out New York is emblazoned with a headline screaming: WHY NYC IS THE GREATEST CITY IN THE WORLD. There were three sub-headings, too: Best sex shops, Subway film series, and Splashy new seafood. Clearly New York City has it all from sex to film to fish.

Great story about the greatest city.

Great story about the greatest city.

The magazine lists 50 facts proving New York City’s superiority ranging from the iconic skyline, to bars that are open until 4 am, to bodega cats. One of my favorite city factoids is “Because New Yorkers live longer than almost anyone else”.  Apparently the third oldest person in the country is a New Yorker, 113-year-old Susannah Mushatt Jones.  TONY thinks that a factor in the average New York City resident living two years longer than the national average is that the residents here “walk more than other Americans and eat fewer trans fats …”

I was recently walking down West 20th Street in Chelsea en route to volunteer usher an off-Broadway play staged at the Atlantic Theater Company, The Lying Lesson, written by playwright Craig Lucas.  In this drama, Carol Kane plays screen legend Bette Davis circa 1981. She travels to a coastal town in Maine for the dual purpose of purchasing a house and to reconnect with a flame from her youth. There are some spot on moments when she rails bitterly about her dead rivals, Joan Crawford and Miriam Hopkins.  Carol Kane captures the essence of Davis. It officially opens Wednesday, so that’s when the critics will weigh in.

Bette David eyes or Carol Kane eyes on poster?

Bette Davis eyes or Carol Kane eyes on poster?

As I was a block away from the theater, I heard an unseen woman exuberantly scream out the window of an apartment building:

Unseen Woman: I’m in love! I’m in love! I’m in love!

Next, I heard an unseen man scream, with a degree of exuberance to complement the woman’s:

Unseen Man (screaming): Yeah!

I resisted chiming in:

Me: I’m in turmoil! I’m in turmoil! I’m in turmoil!

Actually, I was rather charmed by the mystery woman’s declaration, but I wondered if the man was the woman’s source of joy or just a guy that heard her and was infected with her happiness?

When I checked in at the theater I met my co-usher; a pleasant woman around my own age who was wearing very cool glasses. We did not have to stuff Playbills, so we had time to kill before the house opened. My co-usher observed:

Co-usher: When I first saw you, I thought you were Fran Lebowitz.

I hear that occasionally, even though Fran is almost a decade older than me, makes piles of money, and is a very heavy smoker, so heavy that she advocates for smokers’ rights.  In comparison I am a pauper and such a dedicated non-smoker, I hate it when I have to walk behind a smoker on the street, even if that smoker is a sardonic wit who’s been compared to Dorothy Parker.  My co-usher, in an effort to play up her powers of lookalike observation added:

Co-usher: On the way here I saw someone that looked just like Johnny Mathis.

Me: Maybe it was Johnny Mathis?

Co-usher: It was a woman.

After the gig I was once again walking on West 20th Street en route to the subway train uptown.  There was no more yelling from the rafters about being in love, but I was now feeling pretty good since I enjoy seeing theater for free, something else that I think is terrific about living in New York City.  Fortunately, for my continued longevity, I had the capacity to resist blurting at the top of my lungs:

Me: I’m a volunteer usher! I’m a volunteer usher! I’m a volunteer usher!

Screaming that might get me smacked in the kisser with an airborne can of kitchen cleanser. The dense powdery kind. Then I looked down on the sidewalk, and I did have a very pleasant surprise; I saw a crumpled ten-dollar bill.

Actual crumpled ten bucks photographed later.

Same crumpled ten bucks photographed later.

No one that could have owned it was around, so I pocketed it.

With a spring in my step I entered the 18th Street subway station ten clams heavier only to see the electronic message board announce that all uptown local trains were running with delays.  Immediately, my world reverted to normal. I had the opportunity to use my second favorite 4-letter F-word. The one that rhymes with luck.

86 responses to “Lame Adventure 364: Favorite 4-letter F-word

  1. This is classic LA.

    The bodega cat, alternatively known as El Gato, should really be the official NY State animal. For all I know as a resident of the Garden State (down and slightly to the left for all you non-northeasterners) it may well be.

    I had always though that Carol Kane had ocular orbs closer to Marty Feldman than to Bette, lbut I could be wrong.

    Free is always better than that which rhymes with luck and doubly more so when both words are combined (in either order I guess).

    Except for your delayed sojourn to your SS it was a sweet weekend.


    • It was a sweet weekend indeed since I actually hightailed four blocks south to the 14th Street subway station and hopped onto an uptown express that has just entered. I thought Carol Kane was pretty deft casting for the part, but she might be able to play Marty Feldman well should there ever be a play where he’s the protagonist. Excellent observation.


  2. I love it!!!

    Wish I was there!



  3. Maybe someday i will get the chance to get a city walk guided by you. … Love the way you worked the F-word in at end … great surprise.


  4. Ten clams is worth a smile and a whistle. Loved the adventure 🙂 I think i would have flipped the bird to the chic yelling out the window though


  5. How I live vicariously through your city romps, V! I love Carol Kane — she was GREAT in Scrooged, remember? Did you skip to the subway upon finding the 10 spot before using your second favorite f-word?

    And that walking thing, I think there’s definitely something to that.


  6. This is a most excellent lame adventure! I love your usher stories with a $10.00 bonus! Happy Monday! Hope it is full of LUCK!


  7. Well, it’s Monday and I’m back at the grind trying to avoid performing that dreaded four letter word that begins with “W.” I think that was my 10 spot. I remember coming up short after my last trip to NY–oh wait, I’ve not yet been to NY. It must have got caught up in the jet stream and blown there from Arkansas. Oh well, you can keep it. Stop by the watering hole and have one on me. Best wishes for more Free Luck!





  9. Sounds like a pretty good night to me V. 🙂


  10. A fabulous find after a fantastic free gig – can’t get much better than that, LA! I like free, and I like luck.Fun post once again!


  11. I hope that glass of refreshment was at the Emerald!


  12. Eureka- a business proposition my friend – Lame Adventures City Tours! I want to be one of your tour guides!


  13. I adore the Big Apple. Especially in December. And love that you found that ten bucks. Luckin A.


    • Luckin A is right! I solidly love the Big Apple ten months of the year, but July and August can be rough on me since my garret is not wired for air-con. During those months, I feel like I’m trapped in a sweat lodge. Hey, thanks for visiting and commenting!


  14. Snoring Dog Studio

    What a great city. I love the exuberance of yelling out of a window, especially if the word isn’t, “FIRE!” Sadly, living in a place where bars stay open till 4 am is a city that’s lost on me. I can barely make it past 9 pm.


  15. Awesome. Makes me wanna visit NYC again 😉

    Ah the four letter words. The allure.


  16. V,
    I loved this! I’ve been crazy busy this week and had saved reading your post until I had the time to give it’s proper attention. Very interesting about the longevity factor – it probably makes sense given that New Yorkers do walk a lot more. Maybe that fact alone makes the difference. Sounds like the play is very good. I love Carol Kane – can never think about her without evoking images of her portraying the ghost of Christmas present and decking Bill Murray in Scrooged. Anyway, glad you scored the $10. I do love New York and I miss our annual trips there since Peter’s parents passed away (they lived in Connecticut and we’d take the train in for the day). I think we just need to plan a trip and spend a few days enjoying the cultcha.


    • Considering what a culture sponge you are, Cathy, coupled with not having visited here in a while, my NYC bureau of tourism side urges you to return to this part of the world and catch up on all that you’ve missed. We have theater everywhere — on Broadway, off Broadway, in apartments, in the subway station, and the sidewalks are dotted with tens and nickels … Okay, the dots are spread far and wide. It’s more likely that you’ll find a dot-sized penny welded into the asphalt. But this is still a very cool place to visit.


  17. Can I borrow $10?


  18. You know that’s my favorite 4-letter word, so I dig it. I don’t remember the last time I found any legitimate paper money on the sidewalk, so nice haul there! And I too love our bodega cats. The one at my local down in Soho was a tabby named Bagel. I can see Carol Kane as Bette Davis, she’s got the right bug-eye look for it.


  19. Knowing you’re a huge hockey fan, I’m guessing that after “free,” you’re second-favorite word is “puck.” Am I right? I’m right, aren’t I?

    Finding free money is great. I’ll even pick up a penny (if it’s face up, of course–I’m not foolish enough to tempt bad luck by picking up a face-down penny, although I’ll occasionally flip it for the next person). In college, I once fell for the timeless prank of super-gluing a quarter to the sidewalk. It could happen to anyone, right? The sad thing is that I fell for it three days in a row.

    Just when I forget that NYC is the greatest city in the world, NYC is always quick to remind me. LA, the fakest city in the world, doesn’t stroke itself half so much. I think New York shouldn’t try so hard.

    However, I must admit being begrudgingly impressed (and honestly surprised) about the extra two-years of living. I imagine that disparity has less to do with transfats or walking or anything other than simple income. Wealthier people tend to live longer. Also, I suspect that as people age, the less-wealthy tend to retire outside Manhattan, leaving a bunch of rich, well-tended old ladies.

    I guess I can see the Liebowitz connection, but you (and admittedly, I’ve seen two images of you vs a zillion of FW) seem to have a much more pleasant smile. Hers seems bitter to me, and very cold.


    • And that should be “FL” rather than “FW” I’m not sure why I seized on the W in Liebowitz, nor why I feel slightly guilty about it.


    • Thank you for sharing your priceless tales of your encounters with loose change, Smak! Balloon Saloon, a toy and balloon store endorsed here at Lame Adventures, has a business card that looks like a twenty folded in quarters. I’ll make sure to litter the sidewalk with a few of those whenever you get around to visiting the Big Apple dear bud. I never would have thought that New Yorkers live longer, either, but another factor could be that this city, which is a monument to glitz, is not a monument to fake. Therefore, it’s possible that New Yorkers are the type more inclined to give ulcers than to get them. As for FL, even when shes smiling, she does tend to look sour. Maybe that’s because she’s craving a cigarette?


  20. The Big Apple has some of the best exuberance in the world: I’d love to see your ancient lady in action. We have a lady called Grace Jones in Bermondsey, I believe, who is the last person living in Britain to have been born in the 19th century. She is 113…Makes me think I might move there for some of that fresh city air….


    • Gee Kate, I thought that since you live near a forest your air quality’s already pretty good. I live near a bus stop. When I hear the name Grace Jones, my mind instantly goes in the direction of the 80s era disco diva! Did your ancient Grace spawn? Ours didn’t.


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