on the Roof
While the masses throng the highways
headed to the sand and surf, you can get your fun and sun
on Tar Beach
By Kathryn Lurie
of the great trade- offs of having to climb three or four
flights of stairs to get to your top-floor “penthouse” apartment
is that you (whether you know it or not) can reach the stars,
linger among the clouds—or dance about while pretending you’re
a chimney sweep in Mary Poppins. OK, maybe I’m exaggerating
a little, but you do probably have access to your roof.
chillin’ is a great way to spend sunny afternoons and balmy
dusks during the summer. If you live in one of the ubiquitous
brownstones or row houses in the area, the top of your building
is most likely flat and sometimes tarred, making it a great
sky-high patio. If you have never been on the roof of your
building, or you don’t know if you’re able to access it, I
would suggest performing a little investigation to see if
the ascent is at all possible. It’s worth it: Ordinary activities
are just so much more fun when done on a roof. Go ahead, drop
some lawn chairs and tables up there, and maybe even a grill.
String some Japanese lanterns from one antenna to another
and throw a great barbeque for your pals. It’s also the perfect
romantic spot to watch Fourth of July fireworks while cuddling
with your lover or having cocktails with friends.
Don’t be surprised to see other people on adjoining roofs,
and take advantage of it—this is a great way to meet people.
You and your neighbors are face-to-face, with nowhere to go,
really—unlike when you’re able to pretend you don’t know each
other on the street. You share a secret world now. This can
provide you with a reason for friendly competition (“Betcha
I can hit that car across the street with my spit!”), and
a chance to explore things you have in common (“My landlord
doesn’t fix a thing! I’m surprised this roof can support
And here’s an interesting phenomenon: People don’t look up
when they’re on the street. How many times have you been startled
by someone calling to you from high up above your head? Knowing
this fact is key to playing (good-spirited) tricks on passers-by.
One of the best rooftop pranks I’ve witnessed occurred one
night while I was walking down the street with a friend. We
spotted a $1 bill on the ground. When my friend bent down
to snatch it, the bill was yanked just out of reach by an
unseen force; we glanced skyward and spied a few 20-something
wiseasses giggling hysterically (I’m sure they were keeping
tabs on how many oafs fell for the trick). They had tied the
bill to a fishing pole, and when anyone attempted to pocket
the money, they reeled it in. It would’ve been even more interesting
had they had some sociological-research intentions in mind,
but I’m guessing they didn’t.
Whether you’re on your roof to catch some rays, cook some
dogs, or to have a candlelit dinner, the air up there is always
better. So escape the world below where the jobs await, the
cars get ticketed, the construction-obstructed roads continue
to sink, and people are oblivious to the world up high—the
one in which you exist, if only for a little while.