Something Special in the Air

If it’s not the Avian flu, it’s the maple syrup.
—Nina Myers, Esquire magazine

There was something special in the air last night. We noticed it as we walked down Madison Avenue on our way to Union Square where we would find no place with a decent happy hour and no place for us to sit, no place with a fire. Every stranger on the street seemed to be overcome by it. Every stranger we passed smiled at us. Did you notice? It was as if they knew something about us.

Just like your smile: Their smiles kept secrets, their smiles hummed songs. Their smiles seemed to read my mind.

But it was more than that. There was something special in the air last night. Something sweet. Did you notice?

"Is it caramel?" we wondered. "Is it French Vanilla coffee?" we wondered. "Is it maple syrup?" we wondered.

"Yes! It’s maple syrup," we agreed.

It was a pleasant something, but, nonetheless, worrisome: Manhattan doesn’t usually smell like maple syrup.
"Maybe it’s the terrorists," I said.
"They’re trying to kill us with sweetness," you said.
"Maybe they are."
"Oh, isn’t it terrible that we have to think that way?"
"Yes, it’s awful."

Special EPA Agent, P.A. Ritz, is on the case. He writes in:

Depending on the weather, it could have been some kind of volatile organic compound emission that came down onto Manhattan. Volatile organics smell sweet (like toluene or nailpolish remover), and a process upset COULD have happened — if it was a little windy last night that plume could have been carried several miles, and then it could have dropped into Manhattan, where you smelled it.

I'm only guessing here. (The wind blows from NJ to NYC, so it probably came from there.)

Not a good thing.

I don't think it was pancake syrup you smelled.

Special EPA Agent Ritz’s news isn’t heartening — is it? — but no matter. There are worse things than maple syrup in Manhattan, and, even if it was Killer Maple Syrup sent to us by the terrorists, there are worse ways to die. Death by sweetness-inhalation doesn’t seem half-bad. And, I must add, I take it as no small coincidence that the sweetness was born in New Jersey.

We parted — I miss you as soon as you walk away, you know that I do — but I kept you in mind, and, as every stranger in Manhattan passed with a sweet smile, in each bodega, makeshift Halloween costume store, flower shop, vegetable market, and piped out onto all of the sidewalks like warm maple syrup, there was a single song:

My mama said
You can't hurry love
No, you'll just have to wait
She said love don't come easy
But it's a game of give and take
You can't hurry love
No, you'll just have to wait
Just trust in a good time
No matter how long it takes

I sang along, nodded, took a deep breath of the maple syrup air, and smiled my way into Brooklyn for one last night.

eden's picture

OMG stephen, I thought I was crazy ALL NIGHT!!! I thought it was ME! I'm up in Harlem, catching whiffs of brown sugary maple goodness and I'm thinking somehow I spilled some syrup on my shirt, but I haven't even used syrup in a good few weeks. Then I thought, maybe my soap smells like maple and I've just never noticed? This is definitely one of the better smells I have encountered in Manhatttan, but gosh, how strange it was all over town!

ninut maple walnut's picture

holy shit. i just ran into aunt jemima and she was all," ""lawdy lawdy me. i'm finally gittin ma butt buttered and suga suga and spice. wooooh lawd."" and i was all"," ""i totally know what you mean jemmy."" and she was all"," ""take care now child."" and i was all"," ""you too."" so anyway", the point is, what the chris flecker is going on?!! this is uniting us in the same way the blackout did. and the way the avian flu will. but stevo is sitting deckside with me right now and shaking his head in disbelief because he knows the truth. he knows. it's happening. it's allllllll happening. word life. ONE. 1