A young professional’s take on the trials and tribulations of everyday life in New York City.

The other day I was taking a little lunch break in the middle of Times Square, enjoying my front-row seat in the middle of The Big Apple. I let my mind wander as I watched a group of tourists get conned into buying mix CDs (autographed personally for them!). A mental patient shuffled by, muttering angrily to anyone who would listen. A gentle breeze carrying the scent of human waste teased at my hair, and I allowed my lids to get heavy, my eyes to close for a moment. I sighed and settled deeper into my community-use lounge chair. I began to drift away, calmed by the flashing lights, the soothing bleating of the massive crowds, and the sweet lullaby of club promoters cooing, “HEY, do you like to laugh? Hey girls, do you like to laugh? Do you like to laugh? Don’t you like to laugh…” Just before I dropped off into a blissful doze, I thought to myself: “This. This is what living in this city is all about.”

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When I awoke, I became aware of a creeping feeling that I could be marginally happier. All these wonderful sights, sounds and smells stirred my appetite, and I realized that this idyllic scene was missing a key element: food and drink! What would make my midday mini-vacation all the more perfect? Why, a frosty glass of wine and personal pizza delivered to my lap, of course.

Thank you, Mayor Bloomberg, for anticipating the most important needs and desires of Manhattan residents and workers and inviting restaurants and vendors to bid for placement in the plaza. I don’t know why you guys are all so down on him. Before this, I used to have to spend my lunch hour crouched on the corner of 43rd and Broadway, starving and sweating and choking on tour bus fumes. Now the air is clean and we’re free to enjoy our favorite neighborhood the way we’ve always wished we could.

I know where I’ll be spending my summer. And I hear they’ve got their sights set on building 20 more of these car-free urban oases! I can’t wait to hunker down by MSG/Penn Station and dig into a good, dense novel.


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.

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

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