An Unlikely Place for a Picnic

Good weather days in New York City encourage sidewalk picnics.

I enjoy the outdoors after being confined to an office. At lunchtime I purchase soup from a takeout place and head for West Broadway in SoHo. The street is filled with sunlight. I sit on steps for a picnic.

Lunch on a city street is not without adventure. The other day, a magazine photographer interrupted my slurping. "Would you mind being photographed?" I did not mind.

She followed the picture-taking with a series of questions. Where had I purchased my clothes? What had I paid for them? We began at the top - my battered fedora - and worked our way down: coat, suit, shoes. She expressed surprise that I owned only two pairs of shoes. I was informed my shoes cost one-third the price paid by the previous person interviewed. Less and less felt I a man of fashion.

Still hungry, I headed north toward Houston Street. An elderly couple were scrutinizing passersby. They approached me. They were visitors from abroad, on the lookout for someone who could recommend a good restaurant. My self-esteem rose. I suggested a place.

Not to disillusion them, I waited until they left before purchasing a hot dog from a street vendor. "Heavy on the mustard and sauerkraut, please."

Some mornings I enjoy an outdoor breakfast. My picnic site is a park bench on Fifth Avenue across from the Frick mansion.

Inside, behind shuttered French windows at this early hour, hang several of my favorite paintings.

I plan more picnic breakfasts, for in the days ahead the cherry and magnolia trees in the Frick garden will be in full bloom. From my park bench, the trees will be a glorious sight to behold!

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