“What the hell am I doin’ here?”
Maybe it was your muddy Birkenstocks, or your weathered baja sweater, but something about you mesmerized me. Now that I think about it, it was probably the fact that you were singing while staring at me. As I sat on the bench next to you, I couldn’t help but inhale the stale scent of cigarettes emanating from you. You were strumming a few basic chords on your guitar and gently singing a melody. Yet, to me, you were creating a masterpiece.
As my friend Reginald and I sipped our *juice*, we commented on how overwhelmingly stunning the scenery was: skaters rode over bricks, tumbling a few feet before laughing off their obvious pain and dapping up their friends; drunk girls in the traditional Y2K toddler crop top and low-rise jean uniform teetered precariously on the edge of the fountain; and 40-year-old men meandered the square, being totally not predatory at all.
You sang the words, “I don’t care if it hurts. I wanna have control. I want a perfect body. I want a perfect soul.” I almost cried from your beautiful poetry. I didn’t care if it hurt. I wanted to have control. I wanted a perfect body. I wanted a perfect soul. You knew me so well, despite not knowing me at all. You saw me—my talents, my imperfections, my mistakes, my triumphs.
As Bella Swan would say, possibly, “I was unconditionally and irrevocably in [like] with [you].” But soon Reginald spotted an acquaintance of his, so I begrudgingly agreed to follow him. As I walked towards the middle of the square, I met your eye. You nodded at me and I instantly knew that you were a stranger I would never see again, but one I would always remember. Your original song made such an impact on me on that incredibly average September night in Washington Square Park.
On the train ride home, I told Reginald about my cathartic experience. He laughed at me. Apparently, you were not singing an original song about being an outcast in society, a wallflower, or a manic pixie dream person, if you will; you were singing an acoustic version of “Creep” by Radiohead. I was both shocked and embarrassed. How could I possibly not recognize the most classic pick-me song of the 20th century? Either way, I know you are the best musician to ever grace “NYU’s quad.” You will touch many more lost (and slightly tipsy) souls with individuality complexes over the years. Keep up the good work, stranger, who sang “Creep” by Radiohead to me in the sanctuary of Washington Square Park.
NYU’s quad via Wikimedia Commons