A lighthearted look at news, events, culture and everyday life in New York.

By Nina Pajak

Say what you will about this city, but there’s no denying it is the single most entertaining place on earth.

One cannot walk outside one’s door without encountering something remarkable. If one does, it just means that person isn’t paying attention, or is simply inured to the sight of little oddities after repeated exposure. But sometimes someone witnesses something that serves to remind that we truly live in a special, silly, completely insane place. This one comes to me from my brother, a great observer of humanity and of this fine city (and some of its less fine corners).

He was out for an afternoon perambulation in the east 20s, taking his time after running a work-related errand on a beautiful afternoon. He noticed from across the street an elderly gentleman, also taking a stroll. Gentleman is the correct word to describe him. Though the man looked to be in his nineties, he was impeccably dressed in an obviously fine and expensive wool suit. You know, one of those old people you’d imagine was probably some version of Don Draper back in his day—well-coiffed and -heeled, a swell-looking woman on his arm at all the right parties, a beautiful, rent-controlled apartment and a fully-stocked bar in his Midtown office.

Anyway, Future Don was walking down 2nd Avenue in that contemplative state most elderly people seem to occupy, when he came to a stop outside a bar. The place was built low and had removed its windows, so that it opened up directly onto the street at roughly shoulder level if one were sitting within. First with interest, and then with increasing horror, my brother watched as the man faced the window, unzipped his pants, removed his member, and casually took a leak into the window and directly onto a sofa which sat beneath. Then he rearranged himself, zipped up his pants, turned on his heel and resumed his merry way.

My brother looked around wildly in every direction to see if anyone else saw what had just transpired. Tragically, no one had. If an old man pees into a bar on a busy avenue and no one notices, does it leave a stain?

He approached the window to peer in and saw that the place was completely empty—even the bartender had disappeared into a back room somewhere. On the one hand, a merciful thing. On the other, I’d hate to be the person to discover the unmistakable smell of urine on that piece of furniture.

This scenario begs a lot of questions.

1. Was the man suffering from dementia, mistaking the window for a lovely, conveniently-located open-air urinal?

2. Was he on some sort of mind-bending drug which had no effect on his ability to maintain a well-pressed suit?

3. Was he in a fight with the owner of the bar and knowingly desecrated it as an act of vengeance?

4. Or was he just like, “what the eff, I’m old and I have to pee, who’s gonna stop me? I’m Future Don Draper, bitches.”

My money’s on options 1 or 4.


Dear Readers: While I am rarely at a loss for words, I’m always grateful for column ideas. Please feel free to e-mail me your suggestions.

 Nina Pajak is a writer and publishing professional living with her husband on the Upper West Side.

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