Slices of "The Big Apple" This is New York City Wit, Reflections & Amusements: Cliff Strome

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Others like women even more mature then forties, because with or without “some work” women in their fifties are pretty nifty and even in their sixties there are quite a few attractive ladies; “it’s the new forties”. I have seen many women in their early sixties that are beautiful, well kept, nicely dressed, have a lifetime of experience and are typically among the most interesting ladies in town. They’ve got much to talk about while many young ladies often tend to chat about their jobs, former boyfriends, what they bought recently and their other “stuff”. They are generally, not the most interesting, but there are exceptions.

Many men and women intimidate others and are, well, just not too real. That’s a sure sign of insecurity and there’s no shortage of that to go around. Perhaps that’s the best reason why there are so many unattached people roaming around plying the trade! So many people are afraid to make decisions and commitments, take chances, don’t trust their intuition and are afraid of failure and rejection. Status quo! “I’m not risking my money!” Bye folks, life is passing you, “bye”!! I’ve seen that happen time and time again and many of these creatures will be among the richest people in the cemetery. This is it folks! The cemetery is a singles scene and it just ain’t happening.

Many single men prefer to play the role of daddy, big daddy or sugar daddy, and seek the soft and pink women who are “ripe for pickin’” as they’d say. They want to be seen with a “babe” or “trophy” as it props up their egos, which I suppose need proppin’! As for me, age never has been a factor however, mine or theirs, however, in a practical sense generally up to ten years younger was best because these ladies tend to like the confidence and experience that comes with a man that has “the edge” with a few more years.

But, there are ladies out there who want a younger man, their “trophy” thing and they like playing big sister, momma or “the boss.” I suppose it’s a “forbidden fruit” syndrome that turns them on, not to mention those muscles and the hair. Most of those encounters don’t last, based on what I’ve seen in that sub-culture. The guy gets thrown off balance and the lady ditches the male because he can’t keep up with her wants and needs. Lucky him! Get off that trolley buster, see a shrink and get a reality check. “High maintenance” will bring you down fast.

After you’ve selected the places where you want to go, never seem too anxious or desperate. Be confident, cool and scan the place for the woman or women you find appealing, not only from a physical or sexy perspective, but check out the body language, facial expressions. Are they smiling, who are they talking with, what are they talking about, are they fidgeting, are they listening, obsessively looking at their watch, playing with their iphone, fanatically looking at a mirror, texting, unaware of what’s going on around them, etc.? Are they letting the other person(s) talk, do they go to the bathroom too often especially with their friends for a quickie conference, refreshing their lipstick, makeup, hair, etc.? Big trouble, move on or move over! It’s “high maintenance” and low return on investment, hopefully only your time. If you’re looking for a quickie, fine. But, you could get hooked and wind up at the end of her line forever!

Look for the real ladies, secure and grounded. That’s the best advice you can get. Stay away from those gorgeous ladies if they are projecting too much self-interest. It’s trouble and it isn’t worth it. Focus on what you really want and need in your life.

Most inexperienced single men are scared to death to say something, the preverbal “pickup line”. “Haven’t we met before?” “Are you from this part of town?” “What perfume are you wearing?” These noir “lines” right out of the 1930’s will either flop or if the lady has a sense of humor and the intro is made as a joke, then maybe it’ll work. My advice, try it. If you think about it, the “pickup line” is the easiest thing because you have nothing to lose. Just get over it and get yourself to open your mouth. Since you don’t even know this woman, who cares if she “blows you off”? So what? She’s not the last person on the island! Move on and say a prayer for the next dude. On second thought, skip the prayer, if he gets in too deep, it’s experience for him and that has a lot of value. The ladies reaction to your “pickup line” should tell you a lot about her. Pay attention! That first impression is often quite telling for both of you. So, if you don’t like the reaction or feel uncomfortable then step on the gas and go. Move around buster! Ya better “shop around!”

There are literally thousands of pickup lines for all occasions. For example, here’s the shocker, “I’m looking for the perfect woman. Can you help me?” “I’ve noticed you from across the room and wanted to get a closer look, I’m Cliff, and I’m . . .” or “I know I’ve seen you before, perhaps it was in a dream!” If the lady “blows you off” for any of these openers then say “excuse me” or “bye” or “sorry, thought you were someone else”, etc. and keep moving! Smile! Never expose any disappointment. Avoid “my name is” just say “I’m _.”

Other openers that are more traditional are: “You have a terrific look” or “I have been glancing, staring is not a good word, it’s too predatory, at you and I’d like to say hi. “

“Hi, I’m Cliff. Where are you from?” or “You look terrific, certainly you’ve had the year off!” or “My journey is over, so glad you’re here!”

A humorous approach will provide a lot of glues about your candidate. If they find you amusing, intelligent and not the obvious lecher who’s after one thing only then you will know, almost immediately. If they make a scornful face at you then remove yourself pronto. “Well, good luck!” and move on. Smile.

The one you seek is relaxed, drinking alcohol, smiling, listening and perhaps glancing around looking for someone, hopefully, someone they don’t know, yet!

Don’t be miffed if the lady tells you that she’s waiting for “someone.” That “someone” could be a girl friend, prettier then she! I’ve always replied, “Oh, what’s his name? Maybe I know him!” That gets a laugh, usually. If it’s a boy friend, then ask the lady if she’d like you to depart. That’s good protocol and reflects self-assurance, a secure posture. If the answer is “sure, you can hang here” then she’s either grounded and “in good space”, and perhaps not too serious about the guy and she just may be attracted to you. Ask what she does and try to get her business card if you can. Never offer yours, give her one only if she asks for it. Always.

Then, politely excuse yourself to the men’s room and when you return, if the boy friend appears, stay away, if that was her request. Call her if you wish, wait at least a few days or so, never seem too anxious. Unfortunately, it’s a game and never lose sight of that. But, be real, deliberate and honest. Let the ladies talk about themselves. Take an interest or stop wasting your time.

The best, the very best thing that you can say to a lady who you are attempting to get interested in you is simply, “Tell me more!” Let them talk. We have two ears and one mouth that we can shut. What does that tell you? “Tell me more.” Ask questions, be sincerely interested and then they will, should, take an interest in you too.

There’s no shortage of watering holes in this town and running from one to another can be a challenge, especially if you are the type who is intent not to leave any of them without some elbow bending. It’s not necessary because within a minute or two you’ll know if the place has potential and if it doesn’t move on. If you can’t evaluate a place in a few minutes then try another spot or go home and put a fifty in your piggy bank. A, made that a “C note”.

At the time it was a lot of fun and the only way to go but don’t ever overdo the cups to the point that others perceive you as drunk. Ladies are not attracted to that except the occasional lush and that’s a signal of probable trouble down the road. When you find one of those hard drinking ladies, be careful, you can get hooked and hurt. New York City is the fastest lane aside from the Indy 500.


One of the most fun things about floating through the singles scene is stealing cocktail glasses. Why? Because while you’re on the prowl, your mindset should be, to get out of the box. Be unorthodox and undermine what you have been told all of your life, up to a point. You’re on the hunt, not the conventional introduction from an aunt or parent. Rather, a side of your brain shifts into high gear and speaks louder to you. “Go get ‘em.” “Bring home the bacon.” or “My adrenalin, testosterone, serotonin and biological instincts are kickin’ in.” The same part of the brain tells you, “go ahead, and let’s try to get away with something, do something naughty, satisfy that devil in you and getting away with something fuels your engine, at least in those days it fueled mine. Stealing cocktail glasses is the catalyst that builds additional courage and confidence. “I got away with it; now let’s go in for the real prize.” That’s the mentality, weird but true. It’s brain chemistry. It drives and enhances courage and creates a mechanism for you to achieve your mission, successfully in a juvenile, silly and an unusual, creative, fun kind of way. It’s not true of us all, but, above all, be you! Certainly, it’s not for the meek.

The best time to pull off this caper is in the winter, or at least when you wear a suit jacket. This was the drill:

If I had decided that the place was “86”, time to split, I’d tuck my drink against my side beneath my jacket or coat, press my forearm against the outside of my jacket to steady the glass, never wanting to get myself wet. Once outside, I’d grasp the glass and take a sip. One more glass for the pantry! The trip to that joint paid off, even if the drink was my only company. Besides, glasses can only break. Women can break you. Humpty!

One evening, I was out with a platonic girlfriend and the venue was cocktail glass collecting. Even though we were each on the hunt, we had made a declaration, a game of it, so even if we each ended the evening without “pay dirt” we’d have something to show for the time, besides the fun and laughter, glasses! We must have hit about six bars that night and every time we left with our booty tucked safely beneath my “threads”. She knew she was not as good at this as I. Therefore; I had to insert two glasses per trip, beneath my coat. She always got one. I never, ever wanted two of the same glasses in my apartment anyway. That would have been so tacky. No Crate & Barrel or Bed, Bath and Beyond or Macy’s for me!

Early in the evening we stopped by a Duane Reade Drug Store to pick up a couple of shopping bags to carry “the spoils of war”. By two o’clock in the morning, both bags were nearly filled and so were we, “knocked to the bone!”

We left a bar on west 18th Street, a converted firehouse, and sauntered across the street, with bags in hand, when I suddenly noticed bubble wrap! The trash was due to be picked up the next morning and on top of one of the trash cans was a mountain of bubble wrap, you know, the stuff that has air holes that we all love to squeeze and pop. Then an idea hit my brain. I took the bubble wrap, spread it out on the hood of the nearest car and started to remove the booty, glasses, and proceeded to roll ‘em up, one by one, and recited some nonsense such as, “Thank you for shopping with us. Is there anything else I can do for you today? Will that be cash, charge or debit, or did you want to open a store account and save an additional 10% on this purchase? Did you find everything you were looking for today?”

We howled, bent over, fell and crashed on top of the trash, guffawing and shrieking in pain from our hysterical laughter. We couldn’t stop! I was so glad we didn’t have to pee! It was a damn good thing that we were sober enough to use the bubble wrap wisely and protect our precious cargo. If not, we would have crunched all the air out of the little holes, that’s the fun of bubble wrap; squish, snap, crackle and pop pop pop! Everyone loves that stuff. Screw the gift! Just give me Bubble Wrap! Bubble Wrap! I want Bubble Wrap! Yes! Yes!

The fun of the singles scene is up to you. Have a great time and don’t let the “turkeys” get you down. You have to keep it light and keep yourself focused on the mission and don’t be over anxious. Allow yourself to get a little crazy!! After all those years in the “singles business” I claimed the most unusual pantry in the city. In no time at all, I must have had about forty cocktail glasses and they were all different and all mine or in my possession. I would have had over a hundred glasses but the attrition caused by leaving the apartment with a glass tucked tightly beneath my jacket or coat filled with libation always resulted in another donation for a corner trashcan. Why buy my first drink when I can get a head start for nearly nothing?

Today I regret that. I could have opened a cocktail glass store in Nolita, Alphabet City, Tribeca or Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn and retired by now. But what the hell, providing private tours is a wonderful profession, and lots more fun than stealing bar glasses! Maybe I’ve grown up? Nah!

The funniest thing about this was I couldn’t help eliminating that Sesame Street song from my brain that I recalled when my children had been growing up: “None of these things (glasses) are quite like the other; none of these glasses are quite the same.” The question is, if Sesame Street were on television when I was a kid perhaps I would have grown up. I guess there’s a little kid in all of us. Hope so. Be, confident, be intelligent, engaging and secure, listen, shut up and be more confident. That’s it!

Formica Beach on the 47th Floor!

Too much sun, over time, can cause serious health problems. You could become so good looking that your sex life can get out of control and boom; you’re HIV, drink too much and neglect your true purpose or windup alone in a dark box! Be careful! Too much sun can kill you and someone you love. Nah! New Yorkers know that too but that hasn’t closed a slew of tar or Formica beaches! Sunshine in New York City is a hit and miss event and getting “your share” can be challenging. Even on the brightest days a walk in Manhattan can be sunless, if you want it to be. With the grid street layout, that runs generally north-south, 29 degrees of true north, for up and downtown travel and south-east or north-west for cross town, one can usually find one side of the street that’s shaded and the other side that’s blanketed with sunshine. Many of the sunny sides have no sun due to shadows cast by tall buildings. Smart New Yorkers zig zag through the streets in order to accommodate their preferences, sun or no sun.

There are those among us who know where to go to get “serious” sun and we certainly do soak up the “bennies” aka beneficial sunrays, what a myth from the 1970’s! Here are a few interesting examples:

First, there’s tar beach. You won’t find a beach in Manhattan, except at a playground in Central Park or Tribeca. Tar beach is simply a piece of tar that you claim for yourself on the roof of a building that’s accessible to you. There are endless acres of tar for the taking. With towel in hand and a chair just settle in and soak up the rays. The only drawback is that most buildings don’t provide a pool or a shower for the rinse off and refresh. Numerous ingenious New Yorkers bring a Windex bottle filled with cold water and crushed ice to provide the relief they seek when the sweat pours on. I never knew why so many low flying helicopters hovered over Manhattan on hot sunny days. Hum!

Second, there’s Central Park, the place to be if you’re “stuck” in the City on a hot sunny summer weekend. The Sheep Meadow is the center of the universe on such days and it’s best described as a carpet of people all prone, fully greased with oil and absorbing huge doses of vitamin D and gamma rays. Looking good New York City but there’s a price to pay for everything.

Central Park is also littered with hundreds of rocks, outcroppings, with sunbathers propped up, facing the sun, some with those silver reflectors. Do they still sell them these days? I do hope that the price is stratospheric! Someone ought to tell the Mayor! He’ll tax them to death. Most sunbathers are equipped with ipods, ipads, iphones, Blackberry’s and all the rest, towels, and chairs of all kinds; portable children’s size, large wooden models with colorful stripped cloth and the $8.99 specials, the 1970’s vintage woven plastic slats and aluminum frame chairs, light as a feather. Those who sit in the shade and focus on the triangular “watch “cloths that adorn the brave and bold “fems” sweet spots occupy most park benches Nah, nah, nah!!

Third, are the riverside spots and harbor hangouts. The East River and The Hudson provide numerous popular sunbathing sites along the “greenway”. Concrete piers jut out into The Hudson. A swath of blankets cover valuable turf with sun and shade bountifully covering Battery Park too well populated with bodies galore on hot summer days. The outer boroughs have their favorite sun spots too with promenades, Coney, Prospect Park, boardwalks and acres of grass, The Brooklyn Bridge Park, and thousands of acres of other parks and backyards also provide access to lots of sun in the City without the snarls of traffic that the Hampton crowd endures “heel toe, heel toe” in their $120,000 Porsches. Oh, am I dating myself? $120K could that could be the cheapest Porsche on the planet? Orchard Beach in The Bronx isn’t so bad. Far Rockaway and Brighton Beach are great choices too via subway and bus or any means necessary. But you can’t beat tar beach for the convenience, if you hate travel, traffic and travail.

A number of years ago I had rented an apartment on the 47th floor on West 57th Street, a corner apartment facing southeast, great for light and tons of sun. I was not inclined to trek up to Tar Beach because sunning in my own apartment, rarely possible for most, had tremendous advantages such as access to food, liquid refreshments, a landline phone, shower, air-conditioning, privacy or with company and much more to name a few. Only the rent will kill you and a quick slip if you nod out. That will get you down fast, to the pavement that is! It’s the fastest way to get all your bills “paid” too. That’ll solve anyone’s rent problem! That’s why I never put the greasy suntan lotion on my back, slip and slide and down I’d go!

My living room was surrounded by windows, approximately three feet off the floor and extending up to the ceiling, lots of sun. I had a built-in Formica cabinet against the windows with the countertop adjacent to the bottom edge of all the windows. It was about two and one-half feet wide. That was my beach! Formica beach, another New York City invention, such innovation, ah, New York City!

“Cliff, you what? Are you out of your mind? You could have fallen asleep and rolled out of the window you putz!” I had it down to a science, never doubting my sanity. “Thanks for your concern. How’s my tan?” That had been my retort time and again.

“Been to the Hamptons, Cliff?”


I had done this many times, gotten great tans, lots of rest, did the environmentally smart thing not burning a drop of gas. It would not have been possible for me to take the plunge because the windows were only about three feet wide and the separators would have prevented the fall, hopefully. I always remained aware and awake; never for a moment did I perceive that I was in any danger except possibly acquiring too much sun or being eaten by a stray Red-tailed Hawk!

Quite likely I was not the only resident who was “taking sun” that way. New Yorkers live their lives in ways that are unheard of compared with residents of other locales. But, they’ll shrug you off as if New York City claims to have invented everything. That’s just part of the fun of living here. Some of us are well . . . different! Actually, we’re all different, that’s just one of the things I love about New York City! No two people are nearly the same, and that includes those who get tan, and cocktail glasses too, they’re all different!

What’s in a Name?

Chicken pot pies, deep and filled with an abundance of large succulent chunks of fresh white meat surrounded by luscious carrots, potatoes, and peas dripping in creamy fat laden white sauce, buried in a crusty shell from top to bottom, piping hot, are prepared best and served at Kennedy’s Pub at 357 West 57th Street in Manhattan. Trust me!

Sometime during the summer of 2008, after the Democratic Party “cleaned house” paving the way for Barack Hussein Obama to acquire the presidential nomination of his party, the chatter at Kennedy’s shifted to the two would-be candidates, Obama and McCain.

John McCain has been around a long time, served his country in Vietnam, a prisoner of war and a long time U.S. Senator. On the other hand, Barack Obama was not only a newcomer, much younger and far less experienced and moreover he was an African-American; well educated, a spectacular speaker, smart, steady and extremely charismatic.

Stepping into Kennedy’s, an Irish Pub, one had to realize that McCain would be the likely favorite, a man of Irish descent. I knew that speaking with the regulars, whom I virtually didn’t know, provided caution for me to keep my mouth shut, at least that’s what I had intended to do until . . .

Seated several seats away from me, at the bar, were two men nursing their midday scotches and discussing the upcoming election. Judging from their accents, it was no mystery that they were of Irish descent. Both well dressed and speaking loud enough for me to get the gist of their conversation, no doubt a few scotches under their breaths added to the volume. I parked myself silently a few bar stools away anticipating my lunch. I silently reaffirmed my mantra to keep my mouth shut in matters of presidential politics and this was absolutely not the time or the place to put in my two “pence”.

“Nah, not a chance! How could you expect me to vote for a man with that name, Obama! I simply can’t imagine, President Obama! The name doesn’t even sound American! I couldn’t get used to that on a bet unless, of course, there was an apostrophe after the O! (O’Bama) Yuk, Yuk! And when you throw in that guy’s middle name, Hussein, that takes the cake laddy. The thought of a black man in the White House, with the name Barack Hussein Obama! I’d rather see a women or even a Jew in the oval office. God help us all! God save America!”

Wow! My thoughts were, what is America to him? Wasn’t America supposed to be the country where everyone has the opportunity to be anyone they want to be, regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual preference or national origin? Isn’t this the land of immigrants and more than any other place in America, New York City, truly is the “the melting pot!” We all know that the Irish had a very hard time gaining respect and admiration here for decades. Many other ethnic and racial groups looked them down upon the Irish. Many didn’t consider them Caucasian years ago not that Caucasians are any better but because the masses didn’t put them in their rightful place, due to prejudicial misconceptions. They, more than any other national group, built our parks, subways, staffed the fire and police departments and have had a powerful presence in government, education and the building trades for years and years! Their contributions to this city have been huge!

However, the more I listened to their tirade of prejudicial trash at Kennedy’s, meandering meaningless tripe, the more incensed I became. Despite my own best advice I simply could not hold back any longer. Here it comes.

“I’ve been listening to your conversation and I’d like to offer you guys my thoughts. May I, gentlemen?”

“Yeah, what have you got, pal?”

I began a little timidly however, knowing that I was at Kennedy’s, generally a very safe place, but admittedly, I had felt somewhat ill at ease and I did not know how many scotches were brewing in their bellies! I was well prepared to accept the insults and abuse that were certainly about to be hurled at me, that’s fine. I didn’t expect any punches or assaults. The reaction to what I was about to say would be more about the manner in which it was delivered, not the message itself.

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