Town & Village is proud to present “The Soapbox,” a column featuring a different voice from the neighborhood in each one. All are welcome to submit columns on the topic of the author’s choice, preferably not longer than 650 words, to firstname.lastname@example.org.
By John Cappelletti
You won’t see this celebrity very often in New York. In fact, you might never see him. He’s like the eponymous character in “The Invisible Man.”
But he does make an appearance every once in a while, like last summer for instance when he flew in from L.A., D.C. or some other location so competitive they use initials. Here there’s no competition. Attention, attention must be paid to this celebrity when he chooses to grace our lives with a welcome visit. Everyone at the park at Stuyvesant Oval where I hang out stops whatever they’re doing and moves to get a glimpse of him.
Semi-naked young people on the grass totally absorbed in painting their firm, shapely bodies with sunshine suddenly leave their comfortable blankets and move under our marvelous shade trees for a better view. Even though many of these beautiful trees have been chopped down by the landlord’s landscape designer, those that escaped the axe provide refreshing shade and filter the city air for residents like myself and I’m grateful to them.
Old folks relaxing on the wood and iron benches that line the cinder paths cutting through the Oval stop complaining to each other and focus their limited eyesight on our elusive visitor here. Stuyvesant Town has been designated as the unofficial home of the black squirrel because there are so many of these furry friends of the residents who have had their population driven sky high from being fed all kinds of nuts, including expensive black walnuts.
Children stop chasing each other around the new designer playgrounds or giggling and screaming at the new designer fountain when they spot our gourmet celebrity dining al fresco and point to him.
“What’s that, Daddy?” asks a little girl, looking up at a large bird in a tree.
“That’s a hawk, peanut. It’s rare to see them in New York.”
“What’s he doing, Daddy?”
“He’s eating, sweetie. His wing span must be close to three or four feet.”
“What’s he eating, Daddy?”
The young man in shorts and sandals pauses for a second before replying, “He’s enjoying a tasting menu. Isn’t he beautiful?”
“What’s he eating, Daddy?”
“Pizza. He’s eating pizza. Let’s go and get some,” he says, taking his daughter by the hand and leaving the area.
The hawk continues to tear off thin strips of his carpaccio de squirrel, unimpressed by all the attention he’s receiving from seemingly every man, woman and animal in the green park. Even when a family of crows lands on leafy branches surrounding him, making continuous cacophonous caws to chase him away, it’s clear that nothing is going to ruffle his designer feathers or disturb his serene dining experience. I’m happy he’s chosen to dine in our little park where people picnic on the grass, squirrels munch on English walnuts and pigeons peck at whatever forever. I am filled with admiration.