BLINK MOMENTS AND AN OLFACTORY POSSE… I Smell a Gringo !

| August 15, 2012 | Comments (0)

SUBWAY PASSENGERS ABOARD A NEW YORK CITY TRANSIT AUTHORITY CAR ON THE LEXINGTON AVENUE LINE ARE OBLIVIOUS TO THE... - NARA - 556813.jpg

It’s been happening to me for many years; for as long as I can remember, as a matter of fact. I’m referring to “BLINK MOMENTS.” I have them at the most unexpected times and in the least anticipated places.

For example, a few months ago during an afternoon out-and-about in Manhattan I passed a TASTI KREME  shop, one of those unspeakable places I refer to as Diabetes Central, a joint I would not be caught dead in. Only wouldn’t you know, it was that “once-in-a-blue moon”, one time a year moment when I was seized with the urgent need to partake of a TASTI KREME, to bury my face in that non-descript overly sweet confection until my face was covered with goo, my nostrils clogged with sugary mush, my visage as unrecognizable as Fred Astaire in black-face at a minstrel show.

I hasten to add, to repeat, that I don’t do this kind of thing very often, to emphasize that I rarely eat sweets. Even as a child I prefered aspirin and broccoli to eating ice cream cones and donuts. Yes, I WAS a strange child, a boy who read Nancy Drew instead of the Hardy Boys, an only son who played with dolls instead of baseballs.

Be that as it may and back to the TASTI KREME shop, seconds after entering the establishment and ordering one of their vile products, I was seized by an aura. I realized I was having a “blink” moment. As though I were in the grips of speaking in “tongues” and without any pre-meditated intention  of doing so, I blurted out to the employee on the other side of the counter, a young latino man of perhaps twenty-one years, “You’re a doctor!”

The young man’s jaw dropped as did the lump of cake he held in his hand, my order landing on the steel counter with a soft thud. “But how did you know that?”, he gasped. “I’m an intern at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and I’m here filling in for my kid brother who’s sick and couldn’t come to work today !” I shook my head in disbeliefe at what I had said and what the young doctor told me. As we stood staring at each other over the counter, not knowing whether to laugh or scream, I heard myself mumbling, “This kind of thing seems to happen to me all the time !”

Young Doctor Tasti Kreme was so impressed that he refused to charge me for the “death in a cup” dessert I had ordered. My blink talents seemed to be paying off with tangible rewards.

I hasten to add I am not the only person who experiences “blink ” moments. In fact, a best-seller has been penned carrying that very title, BLINK. The book cites various  examples of “blink”, those moments  when the “blinker” realizes the truth, the hidden reality that has evaded detection by others. Often these blink moments have great practical value, carrying with them millions of dollars that weigh in the balance until the treasure in question is swept away by blink.

Perhaps the most famous example of blink detection involves a Greek statue that was to be purchased by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Valued at tens of millions of dollars when it was about to be added to the museum’s collection in the 1980s, the authenticity of the statue was vetted and approved by every expert and every technique known to the art world. Except for one person, Thomas Hoving, formerly the Museum’s Director who as  an independent art consultant  examined the statue and stated, contrary to existing expert opinion, that the statue just did not “seem”  to him to be a real antique. Luckily, the Museum demurred in its purchase. Shortly thereafter a obscure technique, new to the science of antiquity aging, revealed that the statue was in fact only a few years old.  Just as my TASTI KREME encounter revealed totally unexpected information, Hoving’s blink moment served the museum well !

In  my case, I hasten to add that my TASTI KREME blink was not an isolated occurrence. I “blink” with alarming regularity and my revelations are not always met with approval. Some months ago I was invited to a  dinner party in Washington, DC. The crowd was feminist and “do-gooder.” In a gathering of six, I was the only male. All of the other guests had recently returned from assignments in the Third-World and as the evening unfolded one tale after another was recounted, telling of noble efforts overcoming  incredible odds and daunting challenges in the war on poverty, ignorance and corruption. My ears were filled with the sound of “strong women doing the right thing.” I chose the wiser path to valor and kept quiet for most of the evening.

Most prominent in this “save the world” show-and-tell was Shirley who had just returned from one of the “Stans” where she had worked for two years trying to make things right. Small business schemes for women; water-sharing cooperatives in dry zones; village-level health care; good stuff.  Which “Stan” Shirley was in slips my mind; it could have been Afghanistan or  Uzbekistan or  Krgystan, no matter. The work she did and the difficulties encountered made Shirley emerge a heroine. Appreciative murmurs from her fellow diners punctuated the tales Shirely told us as we sampled our Thai curry and Indonesian satay.

After the meal, I walked through the agreeable twilight of Dupont Circle with several of the guests. As we savored the evening, the food, the company and the accounts of noble works performed for the down-trodden, one of my fellow-strollers opined that she found Shirley to be one of the most dedicated, selfless people she had ever met.

As I was about to mumble my agreement I felt a blink moment upon me. Seized by the power of blink, incredible to my own ears, I heard myself say, “I think it’s all bullshit ! Shirley is a spook ! She works for the fucking  CIA !” My feminist, development-set friends turned on me ferociously. I think I even received a blow to the head from one of their purses. Scurrying off into the night before I was pulverized by  the gals – one of them was a black belt martial arts expert ! – I cursed my blink powers and wondered why I was endowed with this strange “gift.”

Needless to say, my name was mud with the girls. After that evening  I received a blizzard of angry emails telling me my head should be examined. What to do ? I asked myself. As with so many things that seem to occur in my life these days, the only thought I could muster was that useful, all-purpose three-word, Chance the Gardener-like aphorism, “So Be It!”

Six months later, I received a cryptic email message from Rose, one of Shirley’s bosom buddies. They had served together saving souls in that benighted, war-torn “Stan.” “I must see you immediately !” read the message.

Meeting the next day, I could hardly contain my curiousity as I sat across from Rose in a crowded Manhattan Starbucks. “What ! What !”, I implored. Smiling ruefully, Rose whispered something. Competing with the blare of Starbuck’s  jazz soundtrack and my own diminished hearing,  Rose’s words came across as so much unintelligible  mush, the underwater mumbling of dolphins mating in an aquarium.

I moved within inches of Rose’s painted lips, yelling once again “What !” This time Rose yelled back, almost blowing my head off with, “You were right ! Shirley WAS a spy for the CIA !  She IS a  fucking, low-life  spook! It all came out in an audit the NGO carried out a couple of months ago….We always thought something was fishy about her…!”

At this point with my TASTI KREME credentials already in my BLINK dossier, I shrugged, giving Rose a matter-of-fact smirk.  All I could think of  saying was,  “I told you so ! Maybe you’ll listen to me next time !”

After so many “revelations” BLINK has become old-hat with me. But there is a new kind of BLINK that has just surfaced and it freaks me out. What I will call COLLECTIVE BLINK.

Here’s what happened: last week I was tired; dog-bone, dead tired as I got on the 6 train back to the Bronx. I entered a crowded car at 125th Street. There was only one stop till I got off at 138th and Third Avenue. The train was packed with latino women all talking at once the  way latinas can do, non-stop shouting, like opera singers who can continue to emote without seeming to stop to take a breath. Fatigue seized me to the point of near-collapse. Then deep within, I felt an intestinal rumble, a signal that major flatulence was about to occur. What to do ? I could compress my rear cheeks and suppress the wind that was begging to emerge. Or… I could relax and let slip the softest, quietest of farts. Who would know ? The train was crowded; there were perhaps a hundred people in the car. With  dozens of riders around me, surely there was safety in numbers and nobody would be the wiser if I let fly with a quiet jet of backside air. Beside the train was about to pull into my stop, the PA system had just announced, “138th Street and Third Avenue.” Home free !

As the train pulled into my station I relaxed my cheeks in blissful release. The rattle of the noisy car and the squeal of squeaky brakes erased all other sounds around us. Done ! I had let fly with a modest, sedate bit of wind. Before I knew it a raging chorus of latinas closed in, attacking me, “YOU FLEW A FART!”

But….HOW did they know ? It was all so quick, so silent, so…small !  As I dodged the shouts and raised fists of the  irate female crowd, I wondered, does gringo flatulence smell different from that of other races ? Research needs to be done on this matter !

As the train doors opened, I fled to the safety of my rat-infested, urine redolent subway stop. Never had freedom smelled so good !

BLINK is alive and well and waiting to strike where you LEAST expect !

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