Please read this again. I obviously didn’t proofread properly. Sorry. Obviously losing it a little.
During the summer, A. and I often take the F train home and get off at Coney Island. This allows us to do two crucial things. First, we can avoid the Escher-esque catalogue of staircases the comprises our Brighton Beach Q stop. Instead, we enjoy a gentle series of ramps that allow us to glide through intoxicated teen agers, Orthodox Jews and that snake guy like Queen Elizabeth II in Ottawa.
The Coney Island Stop also gives us a meditative 20 minute press along the Boardwalk, the Ocean at our right, pink sky, white sailboats all placed there by God and America for your viewing pleasure and their affirmation. My child conks out in the stroller, leaving me free to send and receive text messages, texts at one time held up to the light and hoarded like gems, thrilling and secret and full of facets I never imagined.
Now, the habit is hard to break.
First, however, I have to GET to the Boardwalk, which involves a trek through Coney Island Itself, quick and perpendicular. I usually put my head down and push through the Halal stands, urine, screaming rides and, hardest with a small child, the enormous swirled lollipops smeared on the always white dresses of other children. Three minutes, then past the French fries and we are in the relative peace.
Today, I was just less protected, for better, for worse.
Notes From Coney Island:
1. I passed a teen ager with a T-shirt that read “i’m fine.” across the chest, then turned the tables with a small and extremely abstract bullet wound on the lower right side, about where his right ovary would be, though he was a biological male and had testes. I spatially reference ovaries because I personally am ovulating, and MY right ovary hurts like a bitch. (See Family, I am ovulating, so when all of you verbally abuse me and then chant “Menopause! Menopause!” like that Attica movie when I dare to stand up for myself, well, now you know and can go fuck yourselves. Now. I’ll wait.)
I immediately realized that this was the best clothing design ever.
I decided to have “i’m fine.” printed on every article of clothing I own, and to also have an extremely abstract bullet wound printed on each garment as well. 24/7, my clothes would say “i’m fine.”, and only the astute (or no one, take your pick) would notice the burning tear bleeding modestly in the corner.
Still preoccupied with this outstanding mental health widget…..
2. I passed the Roller Coaster and the music changed from some aggressive and expected Pitbull song and segued into
“Say Something I’m Giving Up On You”
I froze like a rabbit, my nose twitching and the veins in my ears rotating inside their velvet casing.
This is the saddest song ever. This song makes anyone with a beating red heart want to kill themselves. OK, it makes ME want to kill myself. I realize that I am the worst example ever, because I think about suicide all the time. Don’t worry, I’m like Morrissey, I just make a piece and get up and do the work and, predictably, teen agers like me and I still smoke de temps un temps.
But seriously, “Say Something I’m Giving Up On You”?!??!?!? On a Roller Coaster??!?!? Come on, no one is insured for that, not even Thor Equities. This song is so sad, my imaginary boyfriend Charlie Rose featured it on his news show as the most doleful, vein-opening song ever. Maybe sassy ol’ Gayle King introduced it or whatever, but Chuck (as he likes me to call him) was there, at the desk, when the piece aired.
In the unlikely event that I was on a roller coaster and “Timber”, a lively paean to anal sex, gave way to “Say Something I’m Giving Up On You”, I would gnaw though the straps like a raccoon and gleefully tumble to my death right there, my child clutching a tutu and my latest box of tampons as carbon 14 for my horrid family.
Take Adele’s “Someone Like You” and give it some expired Wellbutrin and lock it in a closet with that guy from The National. Take it down like a deer on Route 364 in upstate New York, black hopeless night and snow hitting the windshield, Dad hasn’t spoken to you since Friday, his arm absent across your chest because in his perfect world you fly through the windshield with your orthodontist bills and scamper off into the woods to die.
Because “That’s what they do”
(Nod sagely here.)
I will give you $100 if you can lock yourself in your car and listen to this song without sobbing. Not kidding. Need video.
3. After this invisible debacle, I get to the boardwalk and weave through and get to the wall that defines the NY Aquarium. The wall whose sweet fish mosaics, embedded in cement and broken and playful gave me hope when I moved, gutted after my husband abandoned me in 2006. The wall that I strode past angrily, synthetic hormones boiling, as I willed my eggs into reluctant service. The wall that I leant against, sobbing, another miscarriage, my fingers rubbing the opaque tiles as a asked the ocean for support. The wall that I drove my baby past. The wall that I walked through, first snapping pics of the fish with my then husband, then at a friend’s wedding in indigo velvet, then with my critical mom and my infant, so angry with her and so happy. Then in July with my daughter and I even bought those overpriced pictures. The fish mosaics are gone, replaced with cartoon portrayals of…..
Engineers. Engineers, building a bathosphere, finding invertebrates, designing towers of boxes, who knows what?
Engineers. If I don’t hear another syllable about technology, frankly, it will be 3 years too late. Why Don’t Girls Code? Because maybe they are smart enough to know that it is ridiculous pointless and fucking boring, and that everything they learn will be obsolete in 6 months anyways.
Are Girls Afraid To Code?!??! NO! They are busy painting and dancing and writing and curing and planting and praying and experimenting and driving and believing. Later, fucking and mothering make a welcome appearance.
“Girls” are smart enough to leave coding to (this is important)
people who can’t do anything else.
Have you spent time with New York City Ballet Prima Ballerinas? I have. Have you spent time with world class athletes? Poets? Chess players? I have, and…..
They can’t do anything else. They would be the first to admit it. They can’t do ANYTHING else. God only has paper clips, Fun Tak, sand, Hello Kitty Fruit Gummies and a Thompson Twins cassette tape. Sometimes God runs out of ingredients and says to a soul “Hey, it’s just Fun Tak left, are you feeling lucky?” The soul says “Sure!” and POOF, there’s Patricia McBride.
When I danced professionally, I was actually accused of taking jobs from people who couldn’t do anything else. I was educated, I knew how to pronounce both “Chaucer” and “Jung”, why was I taking a job from someone who could lift their leg high and distinguish between primary colors with ease? Answer: I could count music. More on this later, suffice it to say that I spent hours in the wings shoving more talented people onstage because they couldn’t count the cues. I also got many, many solos that I didn’t deserve because I could count the music.
I long for my ’70s childhood, when an Engineer was someone who wore a striped cap and drove a train, not someone that we were all supposed to magically be.
4. As each post concludes, we go to Walgreens. We buy cheese sticks, yogurt, a surfeit of dairy. I pay and my total is $42.42. I can’t resist.
“Do I get a prize?” I ask. The “Girl”, (sorry) looks at me blankly. “Because my total is $42.42. Do I get, like, some kind of prize?”, hilarious middle aged woman that I am. The Girl pulls out her Employee Manual and looks.
At first, my hat is off to this SO fast. I worked in the Acme Grocery store (yeah, Wiley Coyote I get it but the store exists) from the time I was 13 until I was 21. This is EXACTLY the kind of thing I would do to fuck with someone. Flashback to 1980–“Do I get a discount because my total is $65.65? Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. I would have gotten out the Employee Manual and scrunched my brow in bewilderment. How much time do you have? I just want to go back to College, perform, cook, read poetry and get laid all on my first night back. The leaves are yellowing. That’s your prize, Bitch.
Against my will, The Girl swipes a card. Total is still $42.42. Built To Spill comes on the Muzak, which is crazy and I’ll explain another time.
I walk out the door, adjusting my striped cap and clutching my abstract bullet wound, as I scamper off to die in the woods.