On the way to my second full day of work—O the joys of wearing clean pants! O New Yorker read on the B train, I sing of thee!—I spotted an honest-to-God crazy person, which I was needless to say very excited about. I'm in Manhattan so infrequently lately, and I don't see as many as I used to. Of course we house all manner of nutjobs right here in Brooklyn, like the woman who ambled alongside me and Henry through the aisles of Met Food, explaining to Henry (who was not yet 1 and therefore struggled to follow her reasoning) that the Rastafarians were making her eat their food (although why were her panties so bunched over this? The Rastafarians are all about the organic quality stuff--she should have been grateful! Grateful for their forcing!). But there’s something about the spittle-flecked whack-jobs caroming through Times Square—I don’t know, they have a certain flair lacking in your average Brooklyn eccentric. In Brooklyn, they’ll smear a little poo on their pants and leave it at that; in Manhattan, the crazies will scoop horse manure from the gutters of Central Park and ladle it onto their heads. It's all in the details.
So as I made my way down 42nd I heard angry shouts, increasing in volume. I did that avert-the-eyes-and-cringe-slightly thing that we New Yorkers do, figuring that there was some kind of potentially violent disagreement heading my way, and please don’t knock into me because look how clean my pants are, you don’t want to soil the clean pants! But then I heard the content of the shouting, which consisted only of this: “Harrumph! Harrumph! Harr-UMPH! HARRUMPH! Harrumph. HARRUMPH HARRUMPH HARRUMPH! Hhhhhhaar—“ Etc. So of course I had to look. And immediately to my right, there was a—how do I do this justice?
Imagine Zero Mostel in a fright wig, wearing an ill-fitting suit, carrying a briefcase. He’s on take 57 of the “Harrumph” scene. His face is dark red and sweating, his hair is wet and both pasted onto his head and sticking up in all the wrong places, and he’s…well, dead, actually. Poor Zero Mostel! But let us not get all distracted by our sorrow to stop listening to this guy, who is STILL SHOUTING harrumph over and over, with wild, unfettered fury, and he’s slamming this briefcase into a mailbox like he’s going to harrumph that mailbox (or that briefcase, or both) to death, but still ALL HE’S SAYING, ALBEIT REPEATEDLY, IS HARRUMPH. Everyone around him scatters as he raises his briefcase over his head and brings it down on the mailbox, shrieking and wailing the aforementioned word.
And yes, the delight I take in the misfortunes of others is evil and will almost certainly condemn me to hell, where I’ll room with Mr. Sweaty Harrumpher, but before I had time to reflect on the tragic turn of events that brought him to this place the light was changing and also I realized he could be homicidal so I hightailed it across Broadway. The end.