For about the last three decades I have had a Thursday routine. (Occasionally Thursday happens on Friday, as it did this week.) It starts, my routine does, with a half mile walk to my psycho therapist (two words.) And ends with a walk across the park, another half mile to the subway. I do not listen to music during these walks, or walk as so many do so frequently with my nose to the screen of my iPhone. No, I walk and wonder and wander. It's, in all, about a two-hour escape from everything that is around me. A restorative niche. Something I need.
Today, as I walked across the park I saw a talk lanky Puerto Rican shadow boxing amid the blooming dogwoods, the forsythia and hordes of young women about to bring forth new Upper West Siders. I saw dogs cavorting and chasing. Kids of all ages on their way to school. And well-abbed runners ripping across the asphalt.
But mostly I watched, I stopped for a minute and watched the Puerto Rican jabbing at the ether. He danced nimbly and feinted the punches of his invisible opponent. When he turned around I noticed he had white block lettering on the back of his faded black t. His shirt read: Anthony "The Nightmare" Castellano.
His nickname, "The Nightmare," made me think of an agency president I worked with almost two decades ago. If I were a little more clever I would have called him back in 1993 'Warren "The Nightmare" Dechter.'
Warren was one of the nicest guys I've ever met. He cared for his two daughters--which puts him high in my book. But as an account guy, Warren was a nightmare. I remember once he and I walked down 3rd Avenue together (this was the era when agencies could actually afford office space near their clients.) I was holding a 3/4" tape and said to Warren, "Listen when we present the spots, don't say anything about the mix. I know it's a little hot." Naturally, before the tape was even inserted in the machine Warren said "The mix is a little hot."
He could unsell ice cream in August.