The New York World

021306 article world The New York World

On Saturday evening, on a ship that sailed in circles around Manhattan Island, two single men sat across from one another drinking cocktails and comparing notes about the difficulties of finding a God-fearing woman in New York City.

It was a peculiar lament, being that they were surrounded by dozens of women who had all thrown down $55 to spend the rainy evening on a Christian Singles Cruise.

“Some of these women out there, they are atheist or agnostic and they are just so angry,” Greg Markowiec, a 34-year-old blond mason dressed in a powder-blue golf shirt, told his new friend, Ray Appold, a short 50-year-old Amtrak employee dressed in a dark suit, pink shirt and tie. “With Christian singles, you meet a better class of people. And they are looking for like-minded people. The others have no code, no standards. I need something to work with.”

Mr. Appold nodded somewhat half-heartedly above his cranberry-colored cocktail and said, “It’s an alternative to what I have been meeting in the bars. I hate to use the word ‘barflies,’ but …. ”

The two men constituted a large chunk of the male contingent on the Christian Singles Cruise. Not everyone was happy about that.

“We were expecting a lot more men,” said Herline Raphael, a 31-year-old nurse who drove down from upstate with some of her Seventh-Day Adventist friends. “There isn’t anybody to mingle with.”

“Are we on the wrong boat, or are they on the wrong boat?” chimed in Samyse Romain, 30.

Mr. Markowiec, who had heard about the cruise on a contemporary Christian radio station, also felt a bit out of place. The people weren’t athletic enough for his liking.

“This is so diverse—age, body type, everything,” said Mr. Markowiec. “In speed dating, I met a lot of thin women, beautiful, real fit. But this? Honestly, I’m disappointed with it.”

Mr. Appold said that he found a lot of the women on the ship attractive, but conceded that the Christian Singles scene was no match for speed dating.

“It cuts to the chase,” said Mr. Appold. “You’re there to meet somebody. They’re there to meet somebody. It’s a numbers game.”

“Yeah. The women were just beautiful, pretty, successful. In good shape,” said Mr. Markowiec, remembering a recent series of speed dates. “I had two margaritas to take the edge off. But I started losing it on the last one. She was so hot; she had these tight jeans on.”

“Smoking, huh?” said Mr. Appold

“A couple of dancers,” said Mr. Markowiec.

“What kind of dancers? Exotic? Broadway?” said Mr. Appold, suddenly turning to his right and screaming: “Hey, nice handbag!” The woman walking across the dance floor ignored him. “I talked to her about her bag on the line outside,” he explained.

The two men then shared their issues with Internet dating.

“Sometimes they put pictures of them up and it isn’t even them,” said Mr. Markowiec. “One picture I was like, ‘My God, this girl is so voluptuous!’ And then I meet her and it’s like, ‘Oh my God—it’s Jeff Goldblum!’”

Mr. Markowiec said that New York’s high density of attractive women inspires him to work out.

“It motivates me when I see hot women,” he said. “I play rugby. I keep training—five times a week. I’m going to compete in the Iron Man. I’m feeling good. I detoxed the other day. Herbdoc.com tells you exactly what teas to drink. The result is like night and day. On your life. On your libido.”

Mr. Markowiec added that he had no time for women who didn’t have a strong sense of faith.

“It’s blind faith not to believe, is how I see it,” he said. “You cannot contradict the Bible, and C.S. Lewis. He’s Christian.”

“Can we go up to eat now?” Mr. Appold asked a waitress, excusing himself to the buffet.

Mr. Markowiec continued to discuss his faith in Biblical inheritance. “If you’re in a bar, you tend to keep away from it. Not to talk about it.”

Mr. Appold returned a few minutes later with a plate buried under a mountain of lasagna, sausage and peppers, chicken marsala, mixed vegetables, stuffed sole and turkey.

As Mr. Markowiec went up to grab another beer, Mr. Appold, who is recently divorced, confided, “I’m Protestant, but if there’s a singles event, I’ll try it. If you’re Catholic, Jewish—anything. Whatever.”

A few minutes later, as the wind kicked up, the waters grew choppy and the Spirit of New Jersey rounded Ellis Island, the D.J. invited everyone onto the dance floor. The electric slide was slid, butts were bumped, conga lines snaked around the tables. Mr. Markowiec watched from his seat with a sour expression. Mr. Appold danced emphatically, as though possessed by the Holy Spirit, with two sequin-clad church ladies by the bar.

—Jason Horowitz

Poems for the Prosecutor

I have a new plan: to write Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the Special Prosecutor, poems. Once a day, I will compose a work of verse—such as this one, based on the rhythm-and-blues song “Let the Good Times Roll”:

“Let The Indictments Flow”

Come on baby, let the indictments flow

Come on baby, thrill my soul

Come on baby, let the indictments flow

Flow all night long

Come on baby, yes, we’re in a crisis

This is something we just can’t miss

Come on baby, let the indictments flow

Flow all night long

Come on baby, I know this is zany

This is the moment to stop Dick Cheney

Come on baby, let the indictments flow

Flow all night long

Come on baby, just close the door

The N.S.A. won’t hear you anymore

Come on baby, let the indictments flow

Flow all night long

—and mail it to him.

(Googling Fitzgerald, I learn that he recently began a new Web site. He’s lonely, and wants mail! Though strangely, he only gives a street address, not an e-mail.)

A poem takes the direct route to the human reader. For one thing, it is a variation from the extreme, hectoring tone of the mail Mr. Fitzgerald must receive. It’s like a hand emerging from the envelope and rubbing Patrick’s shoulder, or touching his hair.

Here is my second poem:

“To Special Counsel Patrick J.Fitzgerald”

If you would indict Karl Rove,

I’ll gladly plant you a grove

Of almond trees

In the lilting breeze,

And of treasure I’ll give you a trove.

(I realize that some 26-year-old “assistant” actually reads these letters—but she will smile, receiving this modified limerick, and perhaps even notify Patrick himself: “You’ve got to see this poem!”)

In this new composition, I am bribing the Special Prosecutor (who actually, on his Web site, refers to himself as the “Special Counsel”): first with an orchard of almond trees, then with a trove of treasure. This is allowable, because poetry, like humor, is not considered “serious.” A bribe in a poem is simply a “literary conceit.”

(Actually, I did consider whether I have enough money to buy almond trees or a treasure trove, just to be scrupulously honest. Since I don’t specify the number of trees or the nature of the “treasure,” perhaps I could satisfy both promises for $26.)

Yesterday, I mailed my first poem to Mr. Fitzgerald, warning my wife: “If we aren’t already under surveillance, we will be after this letter.”

On the page, I placed a sticker of a hummingbird. Also, I sent this Chinese fortune-cookie note: “Happy life is just in front of you.” (On the back are the daily numbers—8, 9, 0—and the “Lotto 6 #’s”: 2, 5, 15, 59, 44, 19.)

This could be a new form of political action—I call it “Direct Poetical Entreaty.” Where demonstrations and petitions fail, the humble poem may succeed.

I just remembered: I am a student of French! Every Friday I travel to Kingston, N.Y., to learn from a Swiss woman named Claude. I have composed numerous poems in French. Now is the time to write one for the Special Prosecutor:

Un Cri

La conscience

de l’humanité

cri:

“Poursuivez

Dick Cheney!”

(“A Call”

(The conscience

of humanity

cries:

“Prosecute

Dick Cheney!”)

This poem has the virtue of rhyming—cri with “Dick Cheney” (though I had no intention of rhyming it; French is one of those languages where a third of the words have the same ending).

Cri is different from the American phrase “cry out.” It is a more piercing sound, like a choked sob. It is the sound of a man pleading for his son’s life.

Now I have another plan—to “modify” a Shakespearean sonnet. Here is a new version of Sonnet XIV:

“To Patrick J. Fitzgerald, Special Counsel to the Governing Bodies”

Not from the stars do I my judgment pluck,

And yet methinks I know astrology,

But not to tell of good or evil luck,

Of plagues, of deaths, like numerology.

Nor can I fortune to brief minutes tell,

Pointing to each his thunder, rain, and wind,

Or say to princes if it shall go well

By oft predict what I in heaven find.

But from thine eyes my knowledge I do search,

Those constant stars, in them I’ll read good news

As truth and beauty shall together perch,

And princes born to plunder be confused.

Indict the scoundrels who’ve usurped the state!

Their end is truth’s and beauty’s blooming date.

I encourage all poets—and semi-poets—to write your own! Here’s the address: Patrick J. Fitzgerald, Bond Federal Building, 1400 New York Avenue NW, Ninth Floor, Washington, D.C. 20530.

—Sparrow