NAKED IN NEW YORK

EXCEPT FOR A PAIR OF DIRTY SOCKS

by Davy Rothbart

“Yo, look at that white dude.” “Dang, he all naked!”

I opened my eyes and saw two young teenagers peering at me at a distance of about fifteen feet, their necklace chains dazzling in the blinding morning sun. An instant later, I realized with a jolt that the nude white dude they spoke of was me.

“Watch out, he waking up!” one of them cried, and they tore off out of sight in genuine terror. I sat up hazily and looked around. I was in a tiny park somewhere in New York City—a few wooden benches, some trees, a drinking fountain. Beyond, the world bustled, honked, and shrieked. Whatever extremely drunken notion had inspired me to abandon my clothes the night before, the logic was lost on me as the glamourlessness of my situation slowly dawned. I was completely naked except for a pair of dirty socks—no money, no MetroCard, no cell phone, just a wailing headache.

I cobbled together a plan of action—first, find some clothes; second, figure out where I was; third, find a way back to my friend Seth’s apartment in the East Village, which was home for my six-week stay in the city. But how to find clothes? I sifted glumly through a pair of trash cans at the center of the park—no pants, no sheets, no newspapers, only a giant pizza box. I wrapped the thing around me and ventured out of the park to the crowded sidewalk. Shoppers, students, and businessmen streamed past without even a curious glance. Naked people, I soon discovered, are simply not given much credibility when they appeal for help from strangers on the street.

We hope you enjoy this excerpt.

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Davy Rothbart makes Found magazine, contributes to public radio’s This American Life, and wrote a book of stories called The Lone Surfer of Montana, Kansas (Simon & Schuster). His work has also appeared in the New Yorker, the New York Times, and High Times. If you’ve found something cool, please send it to him at his folks’ house—details at foundmagazine.com.

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