I Love a Parade

That time I led the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade by accident:


“Through my sheer skinniness and the single-minded determination of the utterly oblivious person that I can be, I made my way to a wooden sawhorse employed to keep people off the parade route. The line of sawhorses stretched north and south, unbroken, all stamped, “NYPD.” Of course I could move one, anyone can move a sawhorse, right, but wouldn’t that constitute me, you know, ‘starting something?'”

* * * *
Each Thanksgiving morning I experience the flutter of a memory of a moment in which my own experience of Planes, Trains, and Automobiles almost came true. Mine was going to involve accidental participation in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade between a bus and a train, however, which is a notion that even John Hughes might have rejected as far-fetched.

Despite my lifelong proximity to New York City, I do not have vast experience within the city, and I think most of my time in Manhattan has been spent on foot as I walked from either a bus or train station to my destination. And then back. The secret reason for this is I do not trust myself on subways—one must know the subway system through experience and the only way to gain that experience is … experience. The one and only time I rode the NYC subway alone, I did not know how quickly we would reach my destination, nor how briefly we would stop there, nor how long it would take to get back from Brooklyn, which was far, far past where my destination (a job interview somewhere in the Financial District) lay. That one experience led me to a decision I still stick to: walk (nowadays, with a cane, slowly; I have not been in NYC since 2015) to my destination, no matter how far.
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Upcoming: My Xenon Year

Dr. Oliver Sacks gave me a gift for my birthday some years ago: a writing prompt that I use each year for my special-ish day: Write an essay in which you equate your age with the corresponding element number on the periodic table.

Since I am a nonscientist, this seemed like an invitation to a find a metaphor in a reflection of the year past and in one’s hopes for the year to come.

Of course, Dr. Sacks did not give this present to ME; it was in a July 2015 New York Times essay titled, “My Periodic Table.” (Link; subscription required.) One of his final essays (he died in August that year at age 82), it was a gift for everyone:
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A Haunted Hometown Halloween

One Halloween night, in 1979, I was allowed to venture on foot, in costume, and not accompanied by adults. I was 10.

The Martin Prosperity Institute released what it called its third “annual survey” of Halloween in America back in 2013. The Institute did not produce a fourth or any subsequent sequel to this seminal study of all things creepy, ghostly, and scary, and in 2019, the MPI itself closed up shop altogether. Perhaps it accomplished its mission when everyone named Martin was discovered to be prosperous. Or in an institute.

On reflection, it is likely that my hometown broke the Martin Prosperity Institute, which I will explain.

The Institute’s 2013 in-depth look at the field of Halloween enjoyment, a study not undertaken by most people older than eight, led to many national news articles that expressed shock at its conclusion, which was this: the best place to enjoy Halloween in the United States of America is Poughkeepsie, New York.

If this was true in 2013, it may very well be true tonight, Halloween 2022.
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