New York is full of wild life. Not just the topless woman on Times Square who painted lipstick hearts around her 70 year old areolas, dressed as a Dolly Parton wannabe hawking for tips beside the almost genuine Disney characters wandering close by. Or the teenage boy at the library sporting a shiny long haired wig (its permanent an ode to 1986) who left me wondering who had given him that very large, very fake “diamond” engagement ring. No, bonafide stuffs, like the skunk that crossed our path as we sauntered home from the school’s pot luck dinner, which I mistook for a lost kitty till it poked its snout from under a car.
Back at the ranch, husband and I catch other (broadcasted) wild life. Two of our species trying to convince several million people that they are the true Alpha. Or, moreover, one beating his chest and the other attempting the humble but strong approach. Husband cringes, grimacing through the cracks between the fingers covering his eyes. I’m guessing Obama is not delivering what he had hoped. All I know, is that when the opponent cited PBS as one of the first things he would withdraw funding from, he lost the vote of every professional working in the arts. Obviously his wife is the only person this side of the Atlantic who is not a Downton Abbey nut.
I escape by reading to Boy’s class. Actors are invited to volunteer their services as part of the Book Pal programme. Thus I get to do all the voices and spy Boy’s new habitat. I take in the wide corridors, the panelling, the wooden doors complete with original gold lettering of the grade. A small sea of faces look up at me. One helpfully explains I am actually speaking English, I just sound British. Another tells me she eats healthily. Another informs us he knows the definition of indestructible. Clearly Boy is five not fifteen because he beams with pride for having his mama come to class and read his favourite books. On page five I hear him stage whisper to the beauty beside him – “Effie” short for Francesca, he enthused a few days previously – just how “good the next bit is.”
Quintessentially New York days follow; free family music concert mid morning, followed by impromptu meet with a dear friend from touring days who magics us backstage to catch a rehearsal of War Horse, after which one of the stars tilts his head and sweeps his mane before saying hello to our – shell shocked – Boy. Salted pretzels in hand we gallop down fifth avenue to the glorious Public Library popping into a Steinway piano store on the way so Boy and I can tinkle the ivories, capping it all off with a dinner with friends. Before you can say Happy Columbus Day we are cheering on the parade and chowing over-priced homemade gnocchi on East 57th street.
Boy and his compatriots learn about the Italian explorer, “We get to sing the English tune dad!”
“You mean God Save the Queen?” I ask, and he nods.
Husband arches an eyebrow and we resist Broadway belting out My Country Tis of Thee and the above simultaneously. What a small change of lyrics can do to a song.
Like a coiled spring I type, wandering where I’ll launch myself next. For now, with New York testing my stamina, it’s most likely just going to be as far as my bed.