Strangemom In The City

The Next Family

By: Ann Brown

Oh, hello. I’m just back from New York.

I love saying that to everyone I see. It sounds so urbane and casual. So adventurous. So not like me.

Also, it is the best excuse since the 1994 Northridge earthquake for avoiding shit.

“Oh, right. Your wedding. I’ve been in New York, you know, and I plum forgot about it. So sorry.”

I love excuses. Life in LA was a bountiful, fertile petrie dish of excuses for me – earthquakes, heat, traffic – I hardly ever had to show up for anything when I lived there. Now, however, in the Pacific Northwest, I have to be more accountable for my shit. I mean, I can blame an ice storm but – unlike an earthquake, which can be felt (and therefore, validated) by merely one person, albeit a reprehensible, lying, manipulative person – an ice storm is difficult to sell as an excuse, especially to my neighbors who can look outside their windows.

Anything on my calendar, even something good, fills me with dread. I go through the Kubler-Ross stages of shock, denial, bargaining, anger and – inevitably – surrender when I see that I have plans to go somewhere or see someone. I know this may seem counter-intuitive to the fact that I long to live on a commune with people all around me, but it’s not. You see, on a commune, one simply encounters one’s comrades in regular life situations – morning coffee on the stoop (in my mind, our rural commune has a kinda Brooklyn Heights but with yurts look to it), making the monthly batch of granola in the communal kitchen, replacing the bulbs in the grow lights. In real life, you have to make plans to see people and then you have to wait until the date arrives and then you have to leave your house and go somewhere.

Which is really asking too much of a person.

And which is why I am surprised that I totally kicked ass at it in New York. Oh, I tried to spend most of my time in the apartment in bed, believe me. Most mornings, by the time I got up, Robin had been up for hours; had breakfasted with Adam and Ken before they left for work, walked Hank the dog around the block a few times, had coffee and made a million new friends. Still, I was dressed and ready by 8AM, Oregon time, each day. Yeah, I campagined for the virtues of seeing New York in my jammies from Adam and Ken’s terrace, but in the end, I was slapping my Mephisto sandals on the steaming August pavement with the rest of them.

And I am glad I did. Because otherwise, I would never have met the gyro cart guy in Times Square who – when he sneezed while asking if I wanted hot sauce on my chicken gyro, and I answered, “yes. Hot sauce and Lysol, please” – laughed at my clever bon mot until one of his fillings actually fell out of his mouth. I tell you, I killed on that corner there. I can make it anywhere.

If I stayed in the apartment, I also would never have met the cab driver who – upon hearing my disappointment that he wasn’t the Cash Cab – despite my insistence at only taking Cash Cab lookalike minivan taxis, I never found it – offered to play reverse Cash Cab with me, instructing me to ask him questions for a suggested $25.00 for each of his correct answers. If this catches on and becomes a new show on Discovery Channel, someone owes Rufiso and me our share of the revenue. And I really need the scratch because Rufiso kicked my ass at those questions about New York streets. Fool me twice.

On the other hand, had I stayed in bed, I could have missed the forced march Robin took me on from Midtown to, like, Iowa. I really thought he was trying to kill me in that 97 degree, 2000% humidity weather, pushing me to trudge on through Gramercy Park, around Union Square, down the streets of Greenwich Village, the West Village, Chelsea, stopping only to refill our water bottles and beg strangers for Band-aids as my $250.00 sandals were giving me $250.00 blisters which were beginning to bleed all over my $250.00 sandals, rendering me unable to wear any shoes at all, practically, for the rest of the trip, relying, instead, on loosely wrapped menus from the Tibetan restaurant down the block held onto my feet by hair scrunchies.

Thusly shod, I soldiered on. I looked like I was the last holdout from the 1971 Renaissance Faire.

Between my shoe attire, my sweat-frizzed hair (which already suffers from post-Menopausal pubic hair transplant syndrome even in the driest of climates), the absence of a pair of tweezers (confiscated at the airport, ‘natch, and fuck if I was gonna spend twenty-seven dollars on a new pair at Duane Read even if my mustache and unibrow were coming in like a 757 with a blown tire) and the frequent, unabashed lifting of my blouse to wipe the sweat from my face, I did not exactly show New York my best features. Plus, and not that I am obsessing about this or anything, I outweighed, like, everyone in Midtown. And don’t even get me started about the gay bars. If you ever want to feel bad, really bad, about yourself, be sweaty and frizzy and gain 75 lbs and then go to a gay bar in Manhattan. The trannys looked more feminine than I did.

Oh, I could tell you so many more stories about my trip to New York but our time is up.

Let’s get together real soon. Or soon after that.

After the ice storm, for sure.

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