It’s street fair season in New York! For me, that means bargain hunting for cute reading glasses and a peculiar laboratory for the study of crowd scenes.
I’ll start with the glasses. I lose things. Expensive pens, sunglasses, umbrellas and — most of all — reading glasses have a way or walking away from me so I have multiple pairs and buy ‘em cheap. I keep reading glasses all over my apartment, in every possible jacket pocket, purse, bag etc. When I travel I carry multiple pairs. This caused some consternation on one of my trips through airport security. The French woman, undoubtedly someone who managed to hang onto one elegant pair of glasses, scoffed at the two pairs in my purse and three pairs in my backpack — good thing she didn’t notice I had a pair in my jacket, too. Having lost them on airplanes more than once, I go for quantity.
This brings me to my favorite place to find fun, funny and, occasionally charming, cheap reading glasses while wandering through an open-air laboratory for the study of crowds. New York does not lack crowds, but there is something special about street fairs. They bring out a wild mix of personalities and people slow down. It’s a great venue for people watching/character studies and sometimes a street fair is a good place to set a scene in a story.
This time, one of the best characters was the man hawking some kind of reinvented mop. He had all the sleazy charm of a classic carnival barker on the first day of Spring, but the crowd was much more interested in glittery cell phone accessories and grilled corn on the cob. The charred ears of corn brought out the animal in many patrons. They gnawed on it as they walked by summer dresses,
Pashmina scarves and “hotel quality” linens.
One man strolled by me and I jumped, just a little inside my head. He was definitely a good prototype for a werewolf. He wore a green suede jacket right out of a Bavarian beer hall in a movie with little round glasses and a big knowing smile. Yes, street fairs are fertile territory. I must remember to blog about the feast of San Gennaro or one of the big, wild annual events. Those are ripe for chase scenes and it’s been years since I tired to write one.