Manhattan Christmas Eve (v)

There was a marked increase in activity just before 7:00. A man in a tan overcoat walked out of the stage door and then strolled through the entire outdoor studio; he paused, put out a cigarette and then began walking again, stopping and talking to the crew, looking over a clipboard, scanning the crowd and then lighting another cigarette.

We could see from the monitors that the show was about to start. The audience, now numbering about 300, grew very quiet as if we were inside with Matt and Katie, warm and having hot chocolate. The audience was very polite and cooperative and showed consternation of the least bit only upon hearing the Al was not in town today and would not be on Today that day.

But Mattie and I were not disappointed. We were there. We had already accomplished what we set out to do. Except, we had not actually been on the Today Show. Once we were assured that an image of Mattie and her poster had actually been broadcast, we would truly have accomplished our mission.

We didn’t have to wait too long. Right after the 7:30 break, the reentry into the show included an up close pan of the crowd, down the row, against the barricade shot. So there was Mattie and the poster. She holds it with one hand and furiously waves with the other smiling all the time. I am next to her, waving, but mostly obscured by Mattie’s enthusiastic and high handed wave.

We did it. Mattie had ventured into Manhattan with one goal: hold a sign up on the Today Show. She had done it.

I turned around that there was Sue and Lee. They had arrived at Penn Station at 6:50 then strolled up 7th Avenue in Manhattan’s early morning yawning and stretching. I gave Sue my spot against the barricade with Mattie and joined Lee in the back row. His high school sophomore observations were keen and included a bit of sarcasm. We were having a good time.

By 8:00 we were ready to walk.

[an essay in 13 parts from Pablo Notes, 2001]

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