How often I heard my father, driving around and around in Manhattan, (sometimes forever, for-fucking-ever) get excited at the prospect of a spot only to deflate and utter the words, “There’s a pump,” (and the search continued). See, a pump is a New York fire hydrant, in the parlance of the real New Yorkers of my father’s generation. And a pump is a thing of beauty. Black at the bottom, silver at the top, with vertical indentations to die for.
No, to LIVE for, as a pump, of course, is a saver of lives.
You’ve seen it, I know, in movies and footage of sweaty, filthy, worthless, ghetto children of unfortunate ethnic backgrounds they’ll never be able to shake frolicking happily in its spray while adults burn down buildings and steal television around them.
Well, dear reader, having returned here after my years in exile, I must devastatedly report that the hegemony of the pump has been destroyed as surely as an oversmashed bar of Bonomo’s Turkish Taffy. There are now featureless, suburban hydrants in The City of New York.
Sure, they may be painted properly, but they are sad, artless implements, not true pumps at all. I thought perhaps the older model had gone out of production and could not be bought anywhere at any price, but I’ve seen the classic model installed relatively recently, elsewhere (in the suburbs, which only amplified the pain).
And anyway, if they were not being made, they should have been made. Special. Damn the cost. Some things matter too much.
No need to come here now, out-of-towners and foreigners. This is not New York. This is not a big apple. It is a withered fruit, studded, like lesser apples, with worms that are not pumps.