Finally back in Prospect Park. So what do I do on a golden September afternoon? Start judging my fellow park denizens immediately...like a family setting up a barbecue right under the trees in an area not marked for barbecuing. Harrumph—bet they'll dump their coals on a tree.
That was just the warm-up. Next came these inattentive nannies, who had managed to find the one metal subway grate in three-plus pastoral acres for their tender-kneed young charges to sit on. (Other, even smaller babies crawled over the F train fumes nearby.) It didn't quite merit a shout-out to that "I Saw Your Bad Nanny" website, but it evoked a stay-at-home-mom sniff of disapproval.
I approved of the tough-looking fellow coaching these tiny soccer neophytes. He was incredibly sweet and gifted, seeming to love the challenge of getting the tots to focus on the ball. "What are we NOT going to touch the ball with?" "Our hands!" they cried back with varying degrees of certainty.
This couple, with their cartload of belongings, huddled secretively, one of them mummified by a blanket. Nearby, an infatuated young couple in the prime of health and fashion played with their adorable new puppy. The one couple seemed creepy and sad, the other, too painfully perfect.
It was relaxing to watch this lineup of young men doing mysterious exercises before firing Frisbees at one another; the sport so completely baffled me that I couldn't judge whether anyone's technique was good or bad.
The girls' team practiced nearby. Sitting in observation, out of shape, overweight and recovering from a back spasm, I reserved the harshest judgement for myself: Would I ever be able to zoom around a lawn again without wincing or collapsing? How did I get to the point where any young running bodies seem like Olympians?
Walking out of the park, I was cheered by a surge of disdain—not for these naughty little boys violently climbing a vulnerable pine tree, but for their ever-vigilant au pair, lost in texting (until, presumably, one of her charges falls on her head). Ah, that's better.