Have you ever paused while crossing a street or running an errand to feel a strong sense of deja vu, where you can’t tell if you are in a similar situation as once before, or if perhaps, the moment reminds you of something you read in a book or watched on tv?
The mind works in mysterious ways. I find that ever since I moved to Hoboken and started working in NYC a few years ago, like a passing rain shower, much of the pop culture I was exposed to at a young age has a tendency to submerge me into a fit of deja vu when I least expect it.
I find it ironic that as I’ve gotten older, I’ve taken a greater liking to kiddie movies, since besides watching the Wizard of Oz and my share of Disney films, most films I grew up watching were written and directed by New Yorkers. Since my mom grew up in NYC, and my dad also moved and lived there for a few years before my parents got married, perhaps as a way to cushion their fall into suburbia to raise my sister and I, my parents had a large collection of movies with a very NYC sense of humor. From a young age I was exposed to the ridiculousness of Mel Brooks and Woody Allen, even before I understood all the jokes. There were also the true family favorites, like the film version of Neil Simon’s Barefoot in the Park.
Barefoot in the Park stars Jane Fonda and Robert Redford as newlyweds, and it was released in 1967. It’s very New York, it’s very 1960’s, and overall, it’s just a sweet, camp, romantic movie. I still don’t think I understand how deeply this film is rooted in my subconscious. I always thought (and still do) that I would end up falling in love in New York, and make living in a tiny apartment on W. 4th Street glamorous in between Neil Simon-like witty banter and rapid fire come-backs.
Everyone once in a while, my little dream of living out this film does resonate in real life, though, not always in the way I expect.
One particular great line in the movie is when Corie (Jane Fonda) and Paul (Robert Redford) are arguing:
Corrie: Well you’re a funny kind of drunk, Paul. You just sat there watching your coat.
Paul: I was watching my coat because I saw someone else watching my coat!
I can’t tell you how fast this line propelled itself to the front of my memory this past Saturday night, when I was out a bar on the Lower East Side. After leaving my coat on a hook under the bar, someone else was really watching my coat at the bar, and then apparently, decided to wear it out.
Silly me–not listening to my Neil Simon instincts.
I’m not quite sure what the universe is telling me in these moments. Was watching NYC-centric movies as a kid my parent’s way of teaching me street smarts? Why did I hang up my coat considering I had the same thing happen to me in February, on the LES? Is the LES a coat-eating demon monster? Will I one day live on W. 4th St.? Tell me Magic 8 ball!!
Maybe I will, maybe I won’t. Maybe the LES is a demon, maybe it’s not. But two things are for sure–I won’t be hanging my coat anywhere besides my arm, and Barefoot in the Park is still one of my favorite movies. Lessons learned.