Today I reached a new plateau of professionalism. Last night I made arrangements with my friend James to meet him for lunch today, and we decided, in a slight stretch of the traditional norms of the workplace, to meet at the Chipotle located eighty blocks south of my office. No problem; we have done this before and it's fine. The worst part is dealing with all of the midtown professional drones in their pastel ties and sweater sets. But today, an hour before we were supposed to meet at 34th street, I had an epiphany. I called James, and there was no time for pleasantries.
"I have an idea that is so crazy, your brain is going to dissolve," I said. "What is located next door to Chipotle on 34th street?"
"The movie theater," he replied. I knew he would know.
"And what movie opens up today in wide release?"
"War of the Worlds."
"Yes. And that's all I'm going to say," I said. I was anxious to get off the phone, afraid to get my hopes up, afraid this impossible dream might somehow come true. "Two words for you: 1:15 and 1:45. But that's all I'm saying."
Well, today, Wednesday, at 1:10 pm, you would have found me in a darkened movie theater waiting for the movie to start (we enjoyed a string of previews all having to do, oddly enough, with island mishaps. Moral of the story: don't go anyplace new). It was an extremely odd assortment of people sharing in our midday moviegoing experience, a typical Manhattan cross-section. Old people, teens, ratty people, smartly dressed people who seemed like heads of households. "What's with these people?" I thought contemptuously. "Don't you have jobs? Shouldn't you be working?" Perhaps they were illiterate. I don't know.
I was back at my desk by 4 pm. No harm, no foul. The movie was great, and a major component of my enjoyment came from the illicit pleasure of playing hooky. It didn't feel like I was skipping my job; it felt like I was skipping algebra class. I had even tried to make a hall pass before I left - I wrote a note of explanation to my boss and left it on her chair (she happened to be out of the office, too). I showed the note to a colleague. "Why are you even writing this? What do you want me to do, initial it? Just go. Have fun."
So I did. I shed the usual business-casual shackles and submerged myself in the idyll of a summer afternoon, like back in the days when the only elements of happiness were a driver's license and a warm day and the confidence and bluster to walk away from whatever you let confine you.