Saturday, September 12, 2015

The Whole Rigamarole

George was both elated and distressed as he stood on the deck of Staten Island Ferry while it pulled away from the ferry slip. He watched as the ferry churned toward toward Manhattan, away from the myserteous woman who had dominated his thoughts. He could only imagine what she must think, but the most startling development was that she appeared to recognize him! He could hardly believe his eyes when he thought she had noticed and remembered him. Yes. that was definitely a wave, he thought, and she really smiled!

His thoughts raced feverishly as to what he should do. Of course, he would catch the return ferry, but now it was evening, and the ferry crossings were fewer. She would wait for him. But would she? Maybe she would have the same idea and take the next ferry to Manhattan to find him!

But wait! What if all of this was just a fantasy? Just an illusion? George staggered backward and crumpled to the bench at the rear of the ferry. He watched as he continue to pull away from Staten Island. Hadn't he wondered if she had even existed at all...whether or not his encounter with this stranger and her butterfly in Washington Square Park was just a figment of his imagination?

What should he do? He was now halfway back to Manhattan. He took out his phone. He was so stupid! Why hadn't he thought to take a picture? That could have proved it wasn't just a dream. Yes, he should have the presence of mind to document his adventures.  He started to think on the power of these smartphones... but if they are so smart why couldn't they use the global positioning technology to identify her frequency so he could track her and find her? Yes, he thought, they could that. Suddenly he thought maybe smartphones are not smart enough. If they were smarter he wouldn't be in this predicament. Just a few clicks and he could know where she was and who she was.

All at once George began to realize that Irving Berlin had anticipated this whole smartphone revolution in All Alone. How could he have known the phone would become the basis for relationships in the 21st century?

All alone,
By the telephone...
Waiting for a ring
A ting-a-ling
I'm all alone every evening
All alone feeling blue
Wondering where you are
And how you are
And if you are
All alone too...
(Just for a moment you were mine, and then
You seemed to vanish like a dream).

Amazing, George thought, except maybe now it is "All alone WITH the smartphone." He thought about all the people walking on the street caressing their phones.

George was alone, but still clung to hope. He had been astonished to see her again against at all odds, only to watch her vanish! Irving Berlin's melody was running through his head, distracting him from his real objective. He needed to figure out how to find her.

But this mysterious woman who seemed to hold George's destiny in her hands was oblivious to his distress and unaware she had triggered an identity crisis in this strange man who seemed to stalk her, but also appeared not to be a threat. Sylvia thought perhaps they would talk, but things took a strange turn when she left the park, half afraid that maybe he was deliberately following her.

This was Sylvia's last evening in New York, and on a whim, she had decided to ride the Staten Island Ferry. It was always such fun, and this summer day had been so beautiful. The ferry would give her a last glimpse of her favorite sky-line and remind her of all the wonderful moments spent in New York City after so many years of absence.

But she did become concerned during the ferry ride. She noticed the man who had followed her into the park had now apparently followed her to the ferry and maybe really was stalking her!

As the ferry came to the landing, Sylvia panicked and ran ahead losing herself in the crowd. She could see him running after her, but looking confused and agitated.  She knew he would attempt to follow her, so she ran toward the return gate for the ferry. He would assume she had come for a round-trip ride. She disappeared into the women's restrooms.

True to form, George followed her and surmised she had boarded the return ferry. It would be perfect. He would introduce himself, and they would talk. Maybe even become friends. He thought he saw her ahead.  He rushed to catch up. For a moment,  he went to a woman with long flowing black hair, but it turned out to be a false alarm. Then the Ferry whistle blew, the gates were lowered and the Ferry cast off.  George continued to search the different decks.

Sylva had seen him rush onto the ferry and felt relieved that she had escaped. Maybe he was dangerous. But as she thought about it, he seemed intense with a certain abandonment that she found attractive. In fact, on one level she thought he might be interesting to know.  Why was she always so cautious, she wondered?  She began to regret that she had tricked him to get on the return ferry.

She pressed forward to the ferry entrance and watched as the ferry departed its moorings. Then she saw him looking back at the ferry slip. She caught his eye. She smiled and waved at him. She wasn't sure why, but she could see that he recognized her waving and seemed so jubilant.  Now she was certain she had been too cautious and hoped she might meet him.

And this is how the whole rigamarole began. George caught the return boat to Staten Island and Sylvia headed for Manhattan. For the rest of the evening they went round and round, always out of phase, never really touching. Finally Sylvia had to leave for JFK ,and George would probably still be passing the Statue of Liberty in both directions if he thought there was the slightest chance he would find her.

He was convinced there was something magical about her. He thought Rodgers and Hart had nailed it when they created:

I'm wild again, beguiled again
A simpering, whimpering child again,
Bewitched, bothered and bewildered - am I...

That was it! He knew it. She had bewitched him that day in the park, that mysterious woman who could gesture to butterflies to land in her lap.

George never lost hope of finding her. He would dance around the places where he had seen her, celebrating her existence and singing "I took one look at you, that's all I meant to do, and then my heart stood still..."

He walked around and sometimes floated on air as he continued to search for her in Manhattan. He danced along the wharfs and piers, and made a ritual pilgrimage to Staten Island every week hoping against hope that he might see her.

There was something quite innocent and magnificent about George and his imagination. The world was always challenging him to rise above the mundane. To find adventure and to make miracles. George liked that about the world.

Yet, George could not forget the mysterious woman who had so beguiled him. He thought she embodied all that he had been searching for his whole life.  He continued to search. He continued to hope.

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