Below a sweeping monument of a bridge, looking out over the no-doubt frigid water it crosses, I feel small and unimportant. It doesn't help that when I try to stroll out onto what looks like a barge at anchor, a man in a yellow jumpsuit greets me heartily and then says "You're not allowed on here, y'know."
"Not even just to take a look around?" I ask.
"No, the cops over there, see 'em?" (here he points to a lone empty police car on the shore). "They'll come tell you and take you away. I'm just tellin' you, that's all."
Thus deterred, I walk back onto the shore and over to some benches. An old man in black -- nearly everyone in this city wears black and that makes me take a look at myself, more on that later -- is there with his wife in black, and she's sitting on a bench and he's leaning on it behind her, doing pushups. It's such an arresting sight that, not for the first time, I regret not having my camera with me. She on the bench, looking far-sightedly out across the water. He like a slanting support behind her, gently moving up and down.
Then he walks past me and over to some odd metal circles mounted on the ground, under a sign that says "Peck Slip." He holds the top of a circle, places his feet carefully at the bottom, does some calisthenic stretches. On the water, several gulls fly past and I wonder if "Peck Slip" is some obscure reference to staying clear of them for fear of angry gull pecks.
When the man is done, he walks past me again and I ask him, "How can I walk across the bridge?"
In a thick Eastern European accent, he explains where I can get on it, then says "It's a nice walk. Go do it. Have a nice day." His wife gets up from her reverie, waves to me and they both rumble off.
I look at myself again. I'm in red and light brown shoes, blue socks, blue jeans, olive-green T, bright red and blue fleece jacket, bright yellow outer jacket over that, purple gloves and black Boston Celtics cap.
I'm more or less warm under the Brooklyn Bridge, but compared to the average New Yorker, I could well be lit up like a Christmas tree. Time to go do that walk.