Nothing good has ever come of Sunday night. The stuff you blew off Friday thinking you had two glorious days off to forget about it....and then, Sunday night creeps upon you and you come face to face with the reality of your situation.
No matter when it is on, day or night, whenever I hear the ending theme from "The Honeymooners" while the credits are rolling, like Pavlov's dog, I plummet to a low... deep, deep within myself. It stems from Sunday night. As a kid, I would routinely blow off weekend homework. The last thing I remember before having to try and get some sleep was the ending music from "The Honeymooners", as it ended at 11:30 on WPIX Channel 11. Like a bad song you can't quit humming, it haunts me years later.
I spent a few years in military school, not because I was a problem kid, I was good kid, I just could not seem to apply myself in school, and Ma and Pa thought Military School might be the key. Let me state for the record that I do not blame them whatsoever for sending me, I deserved it. I was a fuck up who only thought about getting high and masturbating to pictures of women until, of course, I could actually have a real one.
The few instances I was able to get home for a weekend, in a flash it would be late Sunday afternoon and the long drive back to school would happen. As I write this I can still feel it, it even leaves a discernible taste in my mouth. I lived in Northern NJ and the school was in Southern NJ so it was a bit of a trip. The setting sun on the ride down, especially on a Fall night, was horribly depressing, once again Sunday night nipping at my ass. I was homesick, the school had more than it's share of sadistic bullies and I knew they would get around to me sooner or later. They did, goddamn it.
Now that I think on it, I have always wondered why I fucking hate football so. So many Sunday late afternoons when I had to go back to school I recall a football game being on. I am ruled by the Pavlov Dog quotient.
Then one Sunday, before I had to back to school, I slipped out of the house and walked to the bus stop and caught a bus to NYC. I had no plan, I was just leaving. It didn't matter if it was a day or an hour, just as long as I didn't have to return to school. The ultimate Sunday procrastination.
Sitting on the bus going through the Lincoln Tunnel I had no idea what I was going to do when I got to town, it was "The Catcher in the Rye" come to life and I wasn't even aware it at the time. To be sure, nothing had been thought out in advance, I was just killing time until something, I had no idea what, happened. The bus groaned to a halt inside the Port Authority Bus Terminal and a night of craziness, loneliness and depression began.
New York City in the late 60's was a grimy, seedy,
dangerous place. The Bus Terminal was ground zero for everything that was depraved and perverted in this down and out town. Terminal was the correct word for this disgusting place I was walking through. Everyone looked tired and haggard. People working in the shabby places of business along the corridor looked for the world as if one foot was deep in the cold earth. The "Post and Coach" bar was a staple in the building, an old man bar if there ever was one. The alcoholic business men, who needed one last fix before the sad trip home to their living hell in the suburbs, would crowd the bar in their sad, tired brown suits, fedoras and cheesy brown wing tip shoes. Tonight, a Sunday, it was closed. Even the "Post and Coach" had the Sunday blues.
I could feel his stare on back, making me feel like a child who had lost his mother. I turned and saw him at the top of the escalator glaring at me, I instinctively knew what would happen if I stuck around. Looking for a cop and seeing none, I walked quickly to the automatic front doors.
The first thing that hit me was the overpowering smell of exhaust fumes. All the bus fumes, past and present, seemed to linger right in front of the terminal. Cars jammed 8th Avenue and colored lights from all the porn palaces of degenerate Times Square winked and prodded you to partake in their pleasures. Every form of bizarre cretin known to humankind was present, slinking and shuffling around. One guy with greased back hair and a pimply face dragged on a cigarette, coughed, dropped the butt and ground it out. The ground was littered with butts, paper bags, soda and beer cans and all sorts of bits of paper. A tired old lady pulled a small cart loaded with all her worldly possessions, an old cloth coat covering her extremities and ankles so puffy and bloated I wondered how she could walk, she did walk, but very slowly, mumbling all the while. From the shadows an employee of the Port Authority came forth struggling with an ancient push broom. The trash presented a monumental task for her to conquer. First off she was at least 101 years old, thin as a rail, and equally as frail looking. She wore a filthy old Yankee ball cap and had the ever present cigarette dangling from her mouth. She pushed the trash to no particular place, it seemed, at the pace of a sloth on Prozac. As a bus groaned and wheezed by I turned to go to the only place I could think of, Madison Square Garden which was about 7 blocks south.
Outside the Garden was the wonderful smell of roasting chestnuts. The same metal shopping carts were used, the bottom spread with foil with charcoal briquettes on top of that smoldering away. A rack directly above the charcoal had the chestnuts. Every Ranger hockey game I had ever gone to had that smell hit you when you left the building after the game. It calmed me down and gave me a sense of security. Besides Basketball and Ice Hockey, the Garden had a lot of "on the side venues". One of those was a bowling alley. I entered the "Garden" an rode the escalator to the 2nd floor and entered the bowling lane area. Sitting on a sticky orange resin chair I watched the old guys bowl a few frames. "I can't keep this going too damn long" I mused. I exited the building and started to circle it. About a 1/4 way around I came to the the theatre venue called "The Felt Forum". There was a small crowd of kids hanging out in front underneath a venue sign proclaiming "Tonight The Byrds with special guest The Association". Tickets were cheap and the joint was far from sold out, so I counted my meager savings and bought a general admission ticket.
"The Association" I could live without, but "The Byrds" was another story entirely. This was the California countrified version of the band. The McGuinn, White, Battin, and Parsons band, and they cooked like none other. An awesome show to be sure, which was captured and wound up on the double album "Untitled". I lucked out, the show lasted til after midnight so now I felt like maybe I could return home and face the music.
There was a good crowd from the show walking back up 8th Ave to the Port Authority Terminal so I could count on a safe walk, what I didn't count on was the late night Sunday bus schedule back to the
'burbs. The last bus I needed to take was long gone, There was only one left that went in the same general vicinity but where I would have to "detrain" was about 5 miles distant from my house, and it was 12:30 A.M. Shit.
The corner of Grove and Mt. Hebron Street is a fucking lonesome place at 1 A.M. Dark, quiet and damned cold. I began to walk southward always on the lookout for police cars who would be sure to question me as to what the fuck a 15 year old kid was doing slinking along so late. There was no wind at all, just bone chilling cold as I hiked down the cracked and uneven sidewalk. "Why don't they ever seem to fix these damn walk" I murmured as I stumbled over yet another grossly uneven section. Luckily there was not a soul around, not a car, not a noise...just me shivering and walking.
The park entrance came at about the halfway point home. It would be much easier to cut through the park and I'd be less conspicuous too. I stumbled through the trees until I came to a roadway within the park and suddenly, headlights! Diving off the road and into some nearby bushes I burrowed down into the leaves hoping I wasn't seen. A police car came nearby stopped, feeling the heat from the idling engine I lay as still as I could. A searchlight switched on and it scanned the area passing inched above my head. Satisfied that they must've seen a deer, they drove on.
Now I was scared, I needed to find a place to hunker down to daybreak. It was much too cold to stay outdoors in the park, so i got the hell out of there and hit Broad St. in Bloomfield. A short row of stores, all closed, lined the street. Then I spied it, an all night Laundry - mat! Scampering across the street I entered its ultra bright, ultra empty and ultra warm environs. Who the hell would be doing their laundry at 2:30 A.M. on a Sunday night? Nobody. Walking towards the rear I found an area in a corner behind a machine, crawling into the corner I fell fast asleep.
Monday morning has it's own set of rules and regulations, as depressing as Sunday but somehow not quite as oppressive. I walked home to find my parents half out of their minds. I was one selfish and stupid son of a bitch to do what I did, and I learned a lot from this episode, unfortunately, not quite enough. I was to turn tail and run off a again a year or so later, again, on a Sunday night with the same results but making it a bit farther and longer. Sundays still suck at 60 years of age.