On the Meatpacking District stabbing and Diet Coke and Catalina Sailboats

Last night, I stumbled onto a crime scene. I was walking past the Apple Store after work just after a random stabbing spree had ended in front. As the news is reporting, some guy went crazy for reasons unknown and simply started stabbing people with a three-inch folding knife in a trendy eyeglass store.  Then he attacked people in the restaurant next door, and then in the small plaza on 9th Avenue. Four were stabbed. Six held him down until the cops came. The dozens of us on the east side sidewalks were simply shaken.

I wasn't there for the violence; I came as the cops and the ambulances did. But the scene was morbid,  the air was heavier than even the brutal humidity, and the witness who told me in detail--and with a strange excitement--about the mayhem, relayed an account graphic enough to make last night's sleep a restless one.

I still have the picture of the two store employees in my head, a man and a woman fearful and wide-eyed behind the glass door, protected less than adequately by only a thin line of yellow crime scene tape surrounding the entrance.

This morning I woke up early (too early) feeling that perhaps it was one of those small gifts from the universe--one of those moments in life that makes you reassess what's important. Sometimes they're big obvious events like 9/11, sometimes they're scary near misses like the midtown crane collapse a block from my parents. Or sometimes they're happy things, like your first-born turning five.

I have this sort of mantra--a stupid one maybe--that you could be hit by a bus any day, and that's why I don't drink Diet Coke.

(I'd hate to think of my last drink on earth being anything but a good black-and-white milkshake in fact, but I don't think my thighs could handle the challenge.)

My mother puts it another way: She tells the story of a friend of hers who wanted a boat his whole life. He dreamed about it. He talked about it incessantly. He cut out photos of it and collected sailing magazines and dog-earred the corners. Everyone in his life knew that boat was his greatest wish.

And then, if I'm remembering this correctly, he died.

"Buy the boat," my mother always says.

Buy the boat.


Blogger Keda said...

That is a brilliant piece of advice. And one that everyone should apply.

7/9/10, 7:31 AM  
Anonymous Amanda said...

We're trying to live by that principle in action and emotion, posts like this are a great reminder.

7/9/10, 7:39 AM  
Blogger Mrs. Q. said...

Ooh, too close a call there. Scary. And sobering.

My father, too, always wanted a sailboat. I secretly vowed if I ever made the money, I'd by him one so he could spend the rest of his retired days trimming the jib and tying crazy knots and performing other tasks I never understood. Never had the chance and, damn, do I wish we bought that boat.

(And I totally agree with you on the diet coke thing. I see a sandwich board: The End is Nigh. Drink Coke.)

7/9/10, 8:57 AM  
Blogger MommyLovesStilettos said...

What a sad situation, and a scary experience I'm sure. But such an amazing piece of advice, so I adore this post!

7/9/10, 9:00 AM  
Blogger Marinka said...

That was seriously scary yesterday. My daughter is just starting to walk around on her own and this is my neighborhood.

I agree-- buy the boat. But we also have to live as though today's not the last day. Because otherwise we'd have a harbor full of boats.

7/9/10, 9:26 AM  
Blogger Kelly said...

Yep. That's why my savings account has a $5 balance.

I always buy the boat.

7/9/10, 9:34 AM  
Blogger Jessica {Team Rasler} said...

That's a scary wake-up call (I prefer the ones like your daughter turning five), but important. I think "buy the boat" is great advice, and I want to throw it out there that your mom's friend probably got a huge amount of joy out of dreaming and preparing and talking about it. Sometimes the anticipation is as good or better than the realization of the goal or dream. If we can enjoy both the process and the fulfillment, we may end up with the happiest lives.

P.S. The part about the Diet Coke made me laugh out loud. I'd like my last meal to always include Ben & Jerry's ice cream, but my thighs wouldn't live up to the challenge, either!

7/9/10, 9:52 AM  
Anonymous Alexis said...

I think I'm going to embroider that on a pillow.

7/9/10, 10:16 AM  
Blogger Magpie said...

Yes. Life's too short to drink diet Coke.

7/9/10, 10:38 AM  
Blogger Magpie said...

Yes. Life's too short to drink diet Coke.

7/9/10, 10:38 AM  
Blogger PunditMom said...

And too short to drink bad wine. And now I'm going to start looking for that tiny beach house.

7/9/10, 11:32 AM  
Blogger NYC Single Mom said...

That is my biggest fear living in nyc that some obviously wacky person will lash out, you just never know, right.

I dont drink diet coke but I hear you.

But love the buy the boat advice. I am trying to start a business with an ex colleague after getting laid off last year. I know I should be getting any job with benefits but this maybe my boat.


7/9/10, 12:54 PM  
Blogger Table4Five said...

That's really scary. "Buy the Boat" is damn good advice, too.

7/9/10, 1:02 PM  
Blogger Issas Crazy World said...

Life is too short to not have dessert when out with friends. That's my moms line. Personally, I life it.

It's that thing of living your life like you will live to be 100 and enjoying the small things in case tomorrow is your last day.

7/9/10, 2:10 PM  
Anonymous Julie @ The Mom Slant said...

Buy the boat. Send the note. Make the call. Give a hug and kiss.

There will always be regrets. Showing love shouldn't be one of them.

(Really glad you're okay.)

7/9/10, 2:45 PM  
Blogger Marketing Mommy said...

Great advice, but only buy the boat if you can afford it. Things never make us as happy as we think they will. My best memories are of the people I met, the places I've seen and the food I've eaten. No recollection whatsoever of what I work.

Although I hope it was fabulous.

7/9/10, 3:28 PM  
Blogger Emma said...

That is amazing advice and just the way I like to live my life! Hope that you are doing ok and are not too shaken about the whole thing!

7/9/10, 3:48 PM  
Blogger Melba said...

I had this teacher in high school, one of those incredible teachers who really made a meaningful difference in my life. He died far to young, within weeks of retiring, a few years after I graduated. His "boat" was travel, which he never got to do. After that, I decided that I would always "buy the boat". And I do, to the extent that I can.

7/9/10, 5:04 PM  
Blogger Fairly Odd Mother said...

We just all had ice cream before dinner, which isn't a boat, but a pretty good thing anyway.

And, my dad (who has already been brought up once in the comments) used to say, when he saw me drinking diet soda, "no one has ever died from eating a little sugar, but are you sure they can say the same about those chemicals?" You gotta admit, it makes sense. I've never had a diet soda since (and not much soda period since I learned that their "sugar" is really HFCS).

Oh, and, this goes without saying, but I'm sure glad you are ok. I would like to try one of those milkshakes with you someday.

7/9/10, 6:44 PM  
Anonymous Mamma San said...

You got it 100% correct, girlfriend. Barbara Randall, Jim's widow, would have loved to have read this post.

7/9/10, 7:40 PM  
Anonymous kami said...

Thighs are over-rated. Isn't that why Spanx were invented? (I'm cheers-ing your black and white milkshake with my Dairy Queen Waffle Crisp Blizzard that I HAD to buy to feed my post-bathing suit shopping depression...oh, wait...did I miss the point of the whole buy the boat thing?)

7/9/10, 8:13 PM  
Blogger Lady M said...


Although because you began the story with walking by the Apple store, I thought it was going to end with "buy the iPhone 4."

7/9/10, 10:20 PM  
Anonymous Brenna @ Almost All The Truth said...

That is so scary! I was in NY when that crane collapsed. My sister and I had checked out of our hotel that was less than a block away just a couple hours before. Even though we probably weren't in any danger, it is still scary to have something so dangerous happen so close.

What a great reminder for how we choose to live our lives.

7/10/10, 12:32 AM  
Anonymous dusty earth mother said...

"Buy the boat". Love that. Gonna steal it. Know you don't mind.

7/10/10, 10:05 AM  
Anonymous Motherhood Uncensored said...

We have the boat and I need to sell it.

Anyone inspired to actually buy a boat after this post?

(And I love this - I'm the one who buys new things and puts them away for weeks and months. I'm off to go rip tags right now).

7/11/10, 1:24 PM  
Blogger Always Home and Uncool said...

I have the same philosophy about drinking crappy beer. And you've seen what that's done to my thighs.

7/11/10, 4:53 PM  
Blogger sarah said...

Best advice ever. What a scary experience!

7/12/10, 12:43 PM  
Anonymous Missy said...

Lovely, to-be-lived-by sentiment. I needed to read that today!

In more literal news, my 4-yr.-old asks for a boat every time we pass the boat store (dealership? what are they called?). I said, no, those cost a bit more money than we have right now. He suggested that next time perhaps I could just grab some more money before leaving home.

7/15/10, 1:12 AM  

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