On my desk is a photo tree, a gift from a former coworker. It says, “On the verge of greatness” on the base. It holds seven photos: two of my daughter, one of my best friend on Jacksonville Beach with the daughter of her former fiancé, one of my best friend and me as very young children sitting in a drawer, one of me parasailing over Paradise Island in the Bahamas with a guy named Ken, one of several of my friends on the lawn of our middle school having a picnic (Amy, Cindy, Jessica, Kalika and Ellen, specifically and in that order clockwise) and, finally, a photo of a pair of hot pink fuzzy slippers.
I’ve told the story of the pink fuzzy slippers to many people over the years, mostly when they’ve noticed the photo. Because, well, the photo needs explanation.
The last time I was in New York City was October 2002. My (now former) friend Kristine and I stayed at a hotel in Newark, New Jersey (where you can’t turn left!), and drove into the city early on Saturday morning. We parked the car and began our exploration of the city. I do not recommend this to anyone. It was slightly chilly, but then it rained and we were just plain cold all day with nowhere to go rest. We stood outside the window at Fox and Friends and called our parents to turn on the TV. We went through part of the Metropolitan Museum and I didn’t see even a fraction of what I wanted to see. We hung out in Times Square (and had breakfast there, which I also don’t recommend because it was expensive and not particularly good). We shopped a little.
We made our way down to where the World Trade Towers once stood and looked at the empty lot and memorials. We saw a bunch of tourists who did not have American accents line up in front of one of the memorials, put their arms around each other and smile big for a photograph. I found this blatant disrespect repulsive and will never forget it. We went to Battery Park and viewed the one remaining remnant of the towers: a large globe sculpture that was relocated after the attacks. Then we walked to the edge of the park and looked out (WAY out) at the Statue of Liberty.
Then we jumped on the subway and headed back to the car. We again had to walk through Times Square and right past the Metropolitan Opera House. People dressed in very fancy garb stepped out of cabs and limousines and headed inside. It was Saturday evening and the city was coming alive.
And on the sidewalk, in the rain, in the dark, directly in front of the world-famous Met, were a pair of brand new-looking fuzzy, hot pink slippers. Just sitting there. All alone. Without feet to fill them.
So, of course, I took a picture. I had to.
It wasn’t until later that I thought about what I did. To this day, I have to wonder. Did someone put those there on purpose? And did that someone hide somewhere with a video camera to see how many stupid tourists would stop and examine and photograph those slippers?
And if not, I guess I will never know how they got there or why. But I will always have my photograph to remind me they were.