Monday, June 25, 2007

Mermaid Parade

It was a perfect sunny day, with none of the stickiness and humidity of a classic New York summer day. It was the 25th anniversary of the Mermaid Parade in Coney Island, the last time the parade would unfurl in the decrepit surroundings we all love. So of course, I and another zillion people descended on Coney Island on Saturday to pay tribute to our beloved, slightly derelict boardwalk, to Astroland, to our nostalgia for nostalgia.
You would be able to see some pictures, dear readers, if I were able to find the tiny cable that allows that to happen. Instead, you will have to bear with my descriptions.
I love the idea of a Mermaid parade. Mermaids and Tritons and water nymphs and sea creatures are beautiful. New Yorkers never shy away from disguising themselves whenever given the chance, and Saturday was no exception. There were lovely mermaids, raunchy mermaids and a trio of long legged women who dressed up as pin up girls from the Forties, sort of living Varga girls. They were ravishing. And that's why I love New York. These women gave the most fitting homage, in my view, to the Coney Island that we are about to lose.
There were way too many people, but one thing that is wonderful about American crowds: they are so well-behaved. Even in the frustrating crush of paralyzed mobs, nobody panics and nobody pushes and everybody remains calm. Where I come from, the mass of people that was in evidence on Saturday could have easily given way to major chaos.
I was trapped in the crowd for about five minutes (which seemed much longer) in front of Nathan's Famous. Americans are also famously patient about lines. It looked that ordering a frank was an ordeal that could take the better part of the day, but there they were, standing quietly in line, waiting for their turn. You can say all you want about Americans, but their civilization when it comes to lines is quite admirable. Nobody has to yell at them to make a line. They have a gene that makes them stand in line for absolutely everything, even when there is no obvious need. In the case of Nathan's Famous, there was need. And the lines were long. No hot dog for me.
I took a deep breath in the crush of humanity and decided to chill until I could move an inch. And it worked. People found a way to cut across and I followed them. I am not a fan of huge crowds, which is why I saw the mermaids, and the glistening blue sea, and I promptly left, on an uncrowded subway back to Manhattan to avoid the later crush.
Our parades in NY are either about witches and zombies, mermaids, sundry nationalities or gays. We love a parade, it seems. In Enchiladaland parades used to be mostly military and very serious commemorations of some national honor -- not fun at all.

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