Sunday in the Park with Gena, Kirsten and Ricky By Gena Oppenheim (Writer)
One lazy day last summer, my friend and fellow CT blogger, Kirsten Guenther, and I were sitting on a bench in Washington Square Park talking about cupcakes…and what we were doing with our lives. While bemoaning my latest existential angst, a dapper older gentleman in a pinstripe suit pants, shiny black and white shoes, red suspenders and a fedora walked by us. He was whistling and smiling...It took a second to notice the white pigeon perched on his shoulder. With a tip of his hat, he smiled and said to his bird, “Hey Ricky, say hi to the pretty ladies.” Instead of greeting us, “Ricky” jumped off his friend's shoulder and flew awkwardly to a branch of a nearby tree.
“Ricky. You get your little white ass down here now!” Mr. Fedora yelled. After a minute or so of trying to talk his bird down from the tree, he turned to the crowd who had suddenly gathered and asked “Anyone got something I can throw?” A group of teenage German tourists happily handed over a bag of pretzels. Mr. Fedora proceeded to throw them up at the tree, while bellowing “Ricky! RICK-EEEE!” Instead of coming down when he was hit with a pretzel, Ricky went up even higher.
“How bout’ carrots? Anyone got a carrot?” Amazingly, the man on the bench next to us did indeed have a bag of baby carrots. Mr. Fedora then threw the carrots at the tree, but Ricky wouldn’t budge (see below video.) He then turned to a German youth, shoved the bag in his hand, said he’d be right back and ran away. It was amazing how involved the group of us had gotten in getting Ricky down from that tree.
The boy stayed perfectly still with Ricky on his shoulder, and when Mr. Fedora came back (with a package of twine) Ricky happily jumped back on his friend as if nothing happened. “Ricky! You scared me! Don’t do that again!” He then tipped his hat at us all and literally skipped off. We all stood there stunned for a moment at what had just occurred. Then people slowly started walking off to their next adventure.
That experience reminded me how much I love this city and the magical moments that always seem to come out of nowhere. I hope that someday, if I’m lucky, I’ll be as sure of something as that man who knew his friend would come down from a tree if only he threw a bag of carrots.
GENA OPPENHEIM Gena is a fourth generation New Yorker who teaches second-grade in Brooklyn. She is a graduate of Barnard College and received her MFA from NYU Tisch's Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program. http://twitter.com/#!/genabeans