One of the few pluses to my hellhole apartment is its proximity to the New York Marathon route. Consequently, I’ve spent the past couple first Sundays in November camped out on the sidelines with my binoculars and my folding chair, bathed in both the glow of the afternoon sun and errant Gatorade spray. Over the past few years I find that I’ve really come to look forward to the marathon, not because I am particularly inspired by the runners, but because of the multitudes of gorgeous cops patrolling the neighborhood. Make no mistake: this entry is not about the marathon, it’s about my love affair with the NYPD.
Two things work together to compound my fascination with New York cops: (1) the never-ending reruns of Law & Order (take your pick) and (2) the awe-inspiring memoir Blue Blood. Not only a riveting read, the book’s expert construction lends it an air of literature rather than stock autobiography. Its author is Edward Conlon, a detective in one of the dicier areas of the Bronx. He is a phenomenal storyteller, has the most adorable accent, and is devastatingly gorgeous in that archetypal Irish cop way. In fact, on more than one occasion I have seriously considered getting myself arrested at a Yankees game just so I get taken into his precinct. That idiot kid who jumped into the net at home plate this past summer? That could’ve been me. “Where is Detective Conlon?” I imagine myself bellowing as I am hauled up to the desk sargeant. “I demand to see Detective Conlon...”
Let it be known, dear reader, that I am not so shallow that my feelings for the 5-0 are completely wrapped up in their looks. Like any New Yorker (not currently occupying a cell in Rikers), I find the blue uniforms reassuring in these troubled times. You frankly never know who’s carrying around a gat in their vest pocket or who’s hiding Agent Orange in a Duane Reade bag. During the recent subway scare I found it comforting to see police scattered about, even amidst doubts that their random bag searches would be able to stop something truly nefarious from happening. The few times a cop would board my subway car I felt myself responding to their presence much as I respond to dogs: a sense of calm would wash over me, my blood pressure would plummet, and almost reflexively I would kiss at them.
I also adore the wicked sense of humor that is as much a part of the uniform as the shield or the hat. A few years ago I spent a weekend afternoon showing my out of town friends around Brooklyn. I wanted to go from Cobble Hill to Williamsburg and thought we could avoid a circuitous subway ride and hoof it. Not entirely sure I was headed in the right direction, I approached two beat cops hanging around the courthouse. The conversation went something like this:
“Excuse me, but do you know if Williamsburg is that way?”
The cops exchanged a look. The shorter of the two pointed off in a direction diametrically opposed to where I was pointing. “It’s that way.”
I quickly figured I should get a little more information before proceeding. “Do you think it might be walkable?” I queried.
Again the cops looked at each other. I noticed a mischievous glint in the taller cop’s eye, not unlike the kind my Irish grandfather used to flash at me when joking around. I knew we were in for it.
“Yes, it’s walkable. Queens is walkable too, but I wouldn't recommend it.”
Anywhere else in the US, a straight question gets you a straight answer. In the Five Boroughs, said question gets you a smartass answer -- my favorite kind.
But I must admit, my predisposition toward New York cops does have a lot to do with their hunky stature and gorgeous mugs. In my hometown, they don’t grow ‘em like they grow ‘em here. Cops in Smalltown, PA are far more likely to look like Chief Wiggam than Detective Mike Logan. What's up with that?
Really, why are NYPD so damn good-looking? Sometimes I wonder if attractiveness might be part of the entrance exam, for what I witnessed a few months ago in a restaurant near the Police Academy just about confirms it. After a long day spent searching for apartments, a friend and I stopped into a pizza joint near Stuyvesant Town. At 3:00 we had the place to ourselves. At 3:10, the place was swarming with new recruits. At once stunned by the sheer amount of rookies and blinded by their beauty, my friend leaned over and declared in her best Nora Charles accent, “This place is lousy with cops!”
It is, naturally, my new favorite pizza place.