Monday, July 28, 2014

Kids Play

Saturday afternoon, I saw a free street performance of Romeo & Juliet right around the corner from my Brooklyn apartment. Saturday night, I went to a Harlem rave.

What a long, strange day it was.

The afternoon was nothing short of miraculous. Boy-free–M was out with his dad–I was able to hang with my Park Slope neighbors as we watched the entire Shakespearean masterpiece I love so well.

So what if some/much of the dialogue was drowned out by passing planes and children shrieking as they played nearby in an open fire hydrant? I heard "A curse on both your houses!" and "O Romeo, Romeo!"; the party scene, with the Venetian-masked cast dancing to Beyonce's "Crazy in Love," was too fun for words; the nurse, on crutches from a previous performances mishap, was hilarious; the star-crossed lovers were beautifully convincing; the sword play was thrilling. The rain even held off.

With my day's dose of culture seemingly over, I headed home to dress for what I thought was dinner out with friends. After a few changes, I finally arrived at a blue peasant blouse, a flowing black linen skirt and funkadelic chandelier earrings. In other words, decked out for a pleasant evening.

Flash forward to 10:30 p.m., when I found myself waffling as to whether to travel with a friend–along with her teenage babysitter and her baby-faced boyfriend–to a Harlem rave. (It had a Facebook page and everything!) Responsible Beth kept reminding herself that the boy would be up and at 'em early the next day, while fun-loving, "I'm not too old for this, dammit!" Beth said, "Why not?"

Of course, it helped that my friend was footing the bill for a car or I never would have done it. Plus, hey, it was "only" 10:30–past my usual bedtime, but all work and all that. And so I went.

Let me tell you, I haven't felt so old, like, ever. Not when the boychick who greeted us asked me, "How long have YOU been on the scene?" as he and his partner frisked my friend and me over with their eyes, as if they were trying to detect if we were narcs. Silly boys; don't they know undercover midlife ladies would have waxed their hair up into spikes, put on five-inch white platforms, and donned wigs, glow sticks and tutus?

When they finally deemed us harmless–my friend kept telling them her sitter was her daughter (!)–we were led to an "undisclosed" location, a hot garage basement filled with post-pubescents trying too hard, drinking Coors Light and dancing to terrible not-even-house music.

I had polled my friends on Facebook beforehand as to whether I should go to a rave. The answers ranged from "Yes!" to "Are you 22 and living in the '90s?" to "If you have to ask, the answer is..." After five minutes, I answered to my own question when I posted "Here. Underwhelmed and bored. #callmejaded"

What can I say? I guess I have been on the scene a long time. And when you spent the '80s in Manhattan clubs, coming this close to JFK Jr. at Area and attending a party at the reopened Studio 54 with Michael Jackson hanging in the VIP Lounge (yes, I caught a glimpse, he was there), a few pyrotechnics and smoke machines aren't going to do it. I wasn't even moved to move. Still, I was thrilled the starry-eyed kids we'd taken were as excited as they were. ("It's the best rave we've ever been to!" cute boy declared. "And the most dangerous!")

And so about an hour later my friend and I departed. Thanks to the travel time, the eye-frisking, the jaunt to said "super-secret" location a few blocks from our drop-off point, and the wait for our car, I didn't get home till 2. Thank all that is holy, my son didn't wake up till 9:30, which never happens.

My friend says she can now check "go to a rave" off her bucket list. All I can say is, Romeo & Juliet's music and dancing were much better than whatever that was up in Harlem on Saturday night. All's well would have ended well if I had gone home at 10:30.

Next time, I'll remember: The play's the thing.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The House of Blue Tape

Our apartment is tangled up in blue–blue tape, that is.

No, we aren't painting the place. I wish we were; we could really use a touch up.

But I digress.

When M was just a toddler, I arrived at the idea of posting things on our stainless steel refrigerator–who knew magnets wouldn’t stick on it?–with blue painters tape. From there, I perfected the art of looping the tape around the back of his preschool pictures for display. Little did I know I had a small blue monster in the making.

Before too long, M took to wanting to "build" things out of his riding toys. But as an only child who lacked the skill to work independently, he always expected us to help–aka do it. By the time he was 3, he would rouse us from our wrinkled sheets as early as 6 a.m. on a Saturday to "make doors" for his PlasmaCar, a marvelous invention that is powered solely by the steering wheel. (It also managed to scratch up our wood floors pretty well; guess we'll fix those when we paint. When hell freezes over.) 

The car is plastic and rounded and does not lend itself to adding doors, or a roof, or any of the other myriad things M demanded that we create for him. But try we did, with cardboard and tin foil and rolls upon rolls of blue tape. (If I had to add it all up over the years, I’d say we’ve spent thousands on the stuff.)

M graduated from the car to his scooter and now his bike, which in its latest incarnation is "pimped out"–as the kindly bicycle shop guy puts it–with a bell, plastic strips that make his wheels clatter insufferably, and a misting fan he insisted on lifting from a box of castaways, even though I told him not to.

The thing is, at 11, M is already a longtime "collector." Our Brooklyn neighborhood is the epicenter of stoop sales and the “leave your old crap on the curb” phenomenon, which used to mean arguing him out of schlepping home every dead TV he saw on the sidewalk. My carefully curated loft apartment is starting to look like something out Hoarders.

The latest pièce de résistance: A broken white ceramic frame with the picture of a random model M bought at the school flea market for 50 cents. He can't understand what's odd about leaving some stranger’s picture in there. He “fixed” it with 12 pieces of very visible blue tape.

I must admit, it’s starting to grow on me. Anthropologie would probably sell it for $25.

But the ultimate blue-tape incident happened one night not long ago, when I came home to discover that in what appeared to be an OCD-like flurry to order his universe, he had labeled everything in the house: "fish tank," "fish bowl," "light," "TV," "misc. home items" (aka the junk drawer), ad infinitum. The poor kid went to such an effort, I left it all on for him a few days.

The latest: a box of tissue seemingly levitating above his bed, suspended by, what else, blue tape. 

I'm thinking of submitting it to the next Biennial. I may just have a design genius on my hands.