If ever there was a city that needed its values laid bare, the facade removed, it is New York City. Ted Cruz is being hammered over his comments over the past week and especially last night. However, is Ted Cruz wrong about New York? I ask you this, knowing that if your answer is “Yes,” then you have either not read this column from the New York Times or you have blocked it out of your memory entirely.
As I rode in a cab across the Brooklyn Bridge, a man I barely knew was sucking my toes. The lights of the bridge streaked overhead, and Manhattan was a jeweled kingdom shrinking behind us in the darkness of the rearview mirror.
Sprawled in an awkward position, I felt weirdly detached from my foot. It’s curious to watch someone engaged in an act of erotic passion and feel nothing. Well, not exactly nothing. I felt a faint thrill, not of physical arousal but a stirring of my spirit of adventure. A blur of lights dotted the East River. The wheels flew over the pavement, and my body whirred through space.
Buckle up. This is a thing that’s happening.
As he massaged like a pro, he said, “So I’m getting married in a few weeks.”
I was thrilling to the magic carpet ride of the cab whisking us home in minutes as opposed to the forever it often seemed to take by subway. It felt like time travel as we whipped down the F.D.R. Drive.
“So, yup,” he continued. “Two weeks from now, I am no longer a single man.”
“Uh, congratulations,” I said, even though in those days I saw marriage as a form of being buried alive.
“There’s one thing I’ve always wanted to do,” he said.
“My fiancée won’t allow it.”
“What is it?”
And then he unveiled his heart’s desire: to suck a woman’s toes before he resigned himself to a life without quirk. He spoke of toes in general with reverence and earnest passion. He spoke of my toes in particular: their contours, shapeliness and perfection.
“Can I?” he said, glancing toward my toes. “They look so sweet.”
At that moment, time stood still. I had moved to New York to fulfill my deepest dreams. And here was this young man, presenting me with his small dream.
I thought of all the times in my life I had said no. All the roads I had never hitched, all the chances I had never taken, all the lips I had never kissed. And I thought: New York is not about no. New York is about yes! So “yes” is what I said.
By now, Leon is sending me angry emails, telling me to stop posting erotic literature on the Front Page. But, alas Leon, there is a punchline to be told.
And so, the next day we pretended it had never happened. After some time had passed, I almost wondered if it had.
Until a year later, when a friend at work approached me, wanting to talk. She had an M.B.A. but no heart for business. Another misfit, trying to figure out what she wanted to be when she grew up.
“I have to talk to you,” she said. “Something has happened.”
“What is it?”
We retired to the women’s bathroom.
“Someone at work sucked my toes,” she confessed, nearly bursting into tears.
“He said he was getting married and that his fiancée wouldn’t allow it.”
I flashed back to the cab and the foot enthusiast’s soontobemarried story, the urgency that had led to my surprising decision to acquiesce.
What did I feel in that moment? Angry that I had been duped?
Oh the drama! She’d been tricked! Surely there is a lesson here about the sexual aggression of men that leads them to lie. Surely this woman will claim that in some way she was raped by this sexual predator from work. Surely…
No. I felt a tiny bud of admiration bloom in my heart. Here was a man so focused on his dream that he had managed, through simple boldness — and a dash of deception — to make it come true again and again. I stared in a threeway mirror and made a mental note to check out acting classes at Uta Hagen’s
studio. I had almost forgotten about my friend.
“Do you think I’m disgusting?” she said finally.
“No,” I said, touching her shoulder while contemplating a bolder future for myself. “I would have done exactly the same thing in your shoes.”
…Nope. Nope. Nope nope nope. Nope.
New York Values