New York sloughs off the week

The sun will be up for at least four more hours, but night has already fallen on Manhattan.

Old Asian men with wispy beards and sensible navy blue cars queue up for safe passage through the Queens Midtown Tunnel. They struggle to see up over the hump in the on-ramp to try to get a sense of the clusterfuck of traffic that lies between them and the weekend. As if that knowledge will somehow help or empower them.

The men who walk the sidewalks beside them are younger and wear better clothes, and they speak constantly on invisible cell phones, and their eyes may be a little harder with frustrated ambition. But they also have that straining-to-see-over-the-hump tension below their eyebrows. They too are trying to see what they're in for.

The dwarf with the one corrective shoe is either a transvestite, in which case her struggle through life is to be supported and applauded, or else she is simply an ugly, mannish woman, in which case she is to be pitied.

However, the women that pass by her, as she waits for the M15 bus to lower its power-assisted ramp, are incredibly beautiful, and not just by contrast. They are beautiful in that uniquely New York way, so beautiful that you want to punch them, for the same reasons that you want to punch any CEO who receives a bonus while his company undergoes Chapter 11 liquidation: because they are the physical manifestations of the inevitable unfairness of life.

Two of these beautiful women are young Filipino twins, who are walking slightly behind an young agitated black man who speaks constantly. "You know, Jay-Z's 40/40 Club is around here," he says, in a tone that bespeaks his utter sense of be-careful-what-you-wish-for panic at the burdens of masculinity suddenly come to bear

The twins are either nineteen or twenty-eight and they wear gauzy wraparound dresses in bright colors that probably cost $300 each. Above these dresses float easy, intelligent smiles that say they can tell a flimsy game of seduction when this see it, but that doesn't mean they mind.

The man wears jeans and a t-shirt.

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