Efrain Diaz and Lefty Santiago have been fishing from the East River for years, along Stuyvesant Cove between 23rd and 14th Streets. They’ll often wait outside for hours for one to bite, and while they’re passing time, they can’t help but notice that a lot of attractive women are jogging by them. The two anglers are outside in all kinds of weather, and so are the women. “If there’s a lot of snow on the ground, you don’t see much, but even if it’s cold, you see plenty in the winter,” says Efrain. He’s talking about the women, not the fish. “They’re hardcore, I guess. Ex-Marines or something!” He should know a thing or two about the combat ethic. He’s an Iraq War veteran.
According to Diaz, New York women are not only tougher than most, but they’re friendlier because living in a big city makes you more comfortable living around lots of people. In fact, he knows many of the joggers by name. The area where they are standing is poorly lit at night, and many of the women feel safer seeing familiar faces along the dark jogging routes. “They’ve been seeing us for years,” he points out. “They know nothing’s going to happen to them as long as we’re here.” Many of the women stop to talk to them, just to say hello and introduce themselves. “Especially when you catch a fish in front of them, they’ll stop and talk to you!” he relates. “Some of them also look at you like they want to kill you. I don’t know why.”
Lefty joins the conversation shortly after, and Efrain catches him up to speed. “This guy wants to know what I think about New York women, and I told him if they look like you [Lefty], forget it!” Lefty digs back at him, “So you mean you have no consideration at all for ugly women? There is no such thing as ugliness. They are all beautiful on the inside. I love all of them!” Apparently, busting each others’ chops is as much of a pastime for them as fishing, but eventually they get back to the topic at hand. When I ask them which women are the friendliest, they have an impressively long list.
SANTIAGO: Let’s see. Kelly, Julia, Marianne, Elizabeth….
DIAZ: Elizabeth was a hottie.
In spite of their admiration, neither of the men has dated any of the women they meet. Diaz is already seeing a woman from the Bronx — the sister of one of his friends from the army. They met at a homecoming party. Lefty describes how he met his high school sweetheart, to whom he’s been married for 40 years: “I used to be fresh with her. We fell in love, and that’s it.” Efrain sums it up, “That’s God’s greatest creation for me. It’s women.” And he finds New York particularly blessed and bountiful.