five gears in reverse
THAT’S A LARGE APPLE
Where were we? Oh yeah, LT and I were getting ready to take Nora to NYC for a weekend. Nora was an excellent companion and a great sport. There were only a few hairy moments on the way back from the Statue of Liberty, and to be fair that was the same day when the kid had gotten up at five in the morning, rode in a car, monorail, airplane, other monorail, commuter train, taxi, and ferry, not to mention walking all over Battery Park and Liberty Island. I was a bit whiny myself, to be honest. Unlike Nora, my pissiness was not directed at the terribly unfair edict about holding hands in the busy intersection, but at the crazy Statue-of-Liberty security, which made a long day feel just that much longer. Searched before boarding the ferry, and then searched again before entering the museum at the base of the statue—what weapons could I have possibly obtained between the ferry and the island?
Liberty Island’s Security Show featured a device I had never seen before—you stood in a doorway and puffs of air shot out at your body and ruffled up your clothes. It was like a full-body glaucoma test. I was wearing a skirt and, thankfully, underpants. Later I was wondering out loud what purpose that could possibly serve, and LT postulated that maybe it checks for plastic explosives strapped to one’s body. Which, damn it, Nora overheard.
Nora: But…if it blew up on a person’s body…wouldn’t that person die too?
LT: Yes. Some people don’t care.
Me: [giving my best Marital Glare, because the child is very mature but can we please not tell her about SUICIDE BOMBERS] Hey, look! A helicopter!
The next day was all about dinosaur bones at AMNH and Central Park, where we spent many hours. Nora partied at five different playgrounds (this one got rave reviews) and made friends with random children. Also: street meat (hot dog), street fair (scored Harry Potter #3 for one dollar and expensive, name-brand, barely-worn shoes in her size for three bucks), and street smells (dinner in Chinatown). There may have been a few more playgrounds in there. It’s all a blur.
Our hotel was fine, and it was very intelligent of LT to get a suite so the kid could collapse every night at 8:30 and we could stay up drinking beer and making fun of network TV. Every time I stay in a hotel I get the urge to call the front desk and ask someone to please come up and explain the art to me, and this time was no exception. Our room featured the usual jumbled color-clusters of faux-modern crap, but also a portrait of what looked for all the world like a very glum David Bowie.
My only hotel complaint (besides David Bowie moping about on the wall) was the couldn’t-be-helped two-double-beds situation—that is less bed than I normally have with LT, so I felt rather cramped and encroached upon by Mr. Cuddle-Arms. But of course Nora sleeps diagonally, so moving over there didn’t help much, plus one memorable night she sat up, leaned over me, and said, “I dreamed I was a muskrat, surviving.” I said nothing and she went back to sleep, but doesn’t that sound like the first line of an Iowa Review poem?
TWO “ENCOUNTERS WITH STRANGERS” STORIES
1. I was riding up to my office in the elevator with two other women. They knew each other but I did not know either one (it’s a big building, plus I am a hermit). One of the women had apparently been on maternity leave, because there was a lot of “Oh my god, I didn’t know you were back!” and “How old is that baby now!” That baby is apparently five months old, my goodness how time does fly. The non-baby-having woman then said, “How can you leave her each day?” and baby-having woman said something mild about how they have a great nanny, flex time, blah blah blah. Then non-baby woman got off the elevator, bye! Have a good one!
The other woman then turned to me, a total stranger, in the elevator and said sarcastically, “How Can I Leave Her? Hmmm, we like to eat and I enjoy having health insurance, how about that?” I laughed out loud and we did a fist bump before reaching our respective floors. It is not always a picnic with the full-time gig (although truthfully I don’t find it that difficult—shhh, don’t tell the media!), but questions like “how can you leave the baby” are rude and pointless and never directed at men.
2. I love to look at toys as much, if not more, than Nora does. So Target shopping always involves a lengthy trip to the toy aisles. We never buy anything but Nora gets wish list ideas, passes judgment on the merits of various action figures, etc. On the last trip she immediately hooked up with this boy and together they walked the aisles of delights, deep in conversation about Bakugan.* At one point he used her name but I just figured that she had introduced herself when I wasn’t paying attention. The kid’s dad and I were standing around, because honestly we’ve got nowhere better to be, and we occasionally talked to the kids but to not each other. Then later I was telling LT about Nora’s Target friend and she piped up with, “He’s from karate.” Why didn’t you tell me he was from karate? I would have introduced myself to the dad instead of staring off into the middle distance and smiling vaguely! Now I am “That Stuck-Up Bitch-Mom From The Dojo.” Thanks.
*There is no earthly reason why you should expect to know what Bakugan is, unless you have a child in the market-targeted age range. The short answer is that Bakugan are stupid fighting robot things, made of plastic and magnets. They are sort of like Transformers in that they roll up into a ball and pop out into their Baku-shapes on any magnetic surface, and this “game” involves points and power levels and all kinds of arcane knowledge. It makes less sense than Pokemon, which is saying a lot. There is also an execrable television show that I will not allow Nora to watch, on the grounds that it is aesthetically repellent, although she did snag an episode at the grandparents’ house once and thus knows a lot of the lingo. I like to piss her off whenever she mentions the “Doom Dimension” by suggesting that we vacation there. She gets all strident like NO! IT IS A TERRIBLE PLACE! MASQUERADE BANISHES YOU THERE AND YOU NEVER COME BACK! and I just play stupid straight-man and talk about how I hear there are nice beaches and stuff.
—mimi smartypants owns a Doom Dimension time-share.