NYC Journal #16 — Friday, 5/16/2020 — Sunbathing Cure Days 2 & 3
You can sunbathe in the little ledge running along the US Bankruptcy Court on Cadman Plaza — about three feet up from the Johnson Street sidewalk. Well, before the street slopes down, taking the sidewalk with it. On Thursday no one seems to notice. On Friday a tallish stoutish woman in a green coat will call the police and two men with blond crew cuts and pale faces reddening in the sudden bright warmth will walk over to you. They will wear short-sleeved uniform shirts stretched taut over bullet proof vests, and, from a few feet away, one of them will look over towards you and say, “Are you OK?” You’ll take down the hand covering your eyes and lower the one holding your ipod out to one side, turn your head and squint over in their direction. “Yeah, just sunbathing.” Then they’ll walk over to the 50ish black woman and say something, presumably about how you’re sunbathing rather than dying, and she’ll say, “Oh! OK! … Sorry.” And they’ll say it’s no problem. Because there’s a couple cops every hundred feet in New York City, so it really is no problem to have them check out the occasional shirtless man in fancy gray thin-fabric, smooth-flowing dress-slacks a little worn and faded, lying with his hand cupped over his eyes and nose, in a sunny little nook along the bottom of a federal building. Maybe you’re normally not allowed to do that, now that I think about it. It is a federal building. Anyway, I hope it’s OK because there’s no easy way otherwise and it is very important that you continue this sunbathing cure. Already on Day 3, you’re feeling much improved, even if today you were very tired from not quite sleeping enough and had to stomp around the office moaning about how sleepy you were and how delicate your system is, that the slightest little error in diet will so disturb your sleep that the next day you’re a veritable zombie although you do truck on and carry on your duties and do the Queen proud and so on.
Why is the sunbathing working so well? Because it was the end of winter and your vitamin D stores were depleted. I can feel the sogginess evaporating out from your lungs. And your step’s got that spring that we’d so missed.
Question: Do mid-May Covid-19 sunbathing cures only work for people whose ancestors lived far from the equator? Because maybe people with ancestors from places that are always sunny don’t store up vitamin D for half the year and then, like a camel sucking on its hump, live off it for the other half.
Question: Do Covid-19 sunbathing cures only work for clinically insane people, deranged enough for psychosomatic improvement to translate into actual physical improvement? Deranged into one’s very bones?
Another Couple Details:
Yesterday a tall homeless man in a long green coat. 50ish. Slacks and coat and sweatshirt clean and unwrinkled. Broad shouldered and robust, with a bit of a paunch. Soft brown skin, soft features in a long oval head, a mild countenance. A well-groomed beard. At first glance you might think, “college professor, gazing off dreamily, contemplating math, poetry, economic theories, whatever it was that caught his fancy three decades ago and has woven itself completely into the fabric of his life.” But then you notice the black sneakers have been so beaten down at the back as to become slippers, and that a big chunk of the back of each foot is showing and that his feet are terribly chapped, so chapped and worn that they’ve become yellow and flaky all over. And then for no apparent reason he starts kicking determinedly at a tiny scrap of plastic — a little scrap from a clear (but tinged tan) plastic bag. Supporting himself with the subway pole, over and over he kicks at and misses this little scrap of sheer plastic.
Yesterday we learned that to buy a thermometer at the local drug store you ring the bell, which has no effect, and then you knock on the glass door, which brings over the young woman, who asks what you need, and who then brings you a couple inadequate vitamin Cs and a couple adequate thermometers for you to choose from. Do they take credit cards? Of course! She takes it back to the register, runs the card, and brings you the receipt and the thermometer all wrapped up together in the tiniest cutest little pharmacy-themed plastic bag.
Today we learned that at this one place by the 2/3 & 4/5 Franklin stop, the table shoved up at the front and the square metal stool between the table and the wall are not there to encourage you to climb over the stool, but rather to stop all forward momentum and speak out your order in a loud voice so the girl behind the register can hear you from a dozen or so feet away. Why do you keep ordering chicken burritos? It’s becoming weird. It’s becoming a problem. It’s becoming suspicious. If they hadn’t been so prompt with the burrito we would’ve also learned how to say in Spanish: Attention delivery people, unless customer’s request otherwise, you are required to bring the food to their apartment door, if we learn from a customer that you’re leaving food anywhere else, you will be banned.
A Few Sunbathing Tips:
Do Not Take a Shower! First of all, you need the sun-activated oils to loll around on your skin filling you up gradually with Vitamin D. Second of all, then you’re getting the harmful radiation without the protective Vitamin D oil, which is foolhardy. Third off all, people take too many showers in this culture. [Also: you should never use soap except where grime and odor build up. Otherwise you’re destroying the balance of your skin for nobody’s sake but the advertisers’.]
10 minutes a side and no more and you really should build up to the 10 minutes unless you absolutely cannot wait because the Covid-19 won’t quite leave your bones even though you haven’t had a fever or anything like that in let’s say six or seven weeks. But as a general rule, you should just do like five minutes a side the first few times and then build up to ten minutes a side. Of course it depends on your skin type. So this advice is only really relevant to our test case.
Drink Green Tea. To fight against the sun’s damages. If you can’t handle caffeine, maybe decaf. If you can’t handle how boring green tea is, consider one green and one black bag in a little pot that you pour over ice all morning long. How delicious, invigorating, and downright interesting that would be!
Health Warning: This is a literary blog! Don’t take it’s health advice seriously! Well, you could think about it. You could use it as a starting point for some internet research. But don’t act like this is a health blog when it’s clearly a literary blog, or at least would be if it’s authors could pull it together and become real men of letters instead of just real men of self indulgence.
Authors: Bartleby, John, Amble.
Copyright: AM Watson