Exclusives: Raising Kate
PAW web exclusive column by Kate Swearengen '04 (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Weekend in New York
Date: Thursday, November
We went to Little Italy
for Thanksgiving dinner. I ate potato gnocchi, and my parents had
linguini. After the tiramisu, we headed for Chinatown. A couple
of years ago, my parents and I had wandered along Mott Street looking
for a famous checkers-playing chicken. This time, we wandered along
Mott Street looking for Chinese slippers. My mother wanted a pair.
Don't ask me why. The weather was nice, and the neighborhood grocers
were selling fresh fruit and vegetables from the sidewalk. It would
have been perfect if it hadn't been for Barnaby Balboa Bear.
Barnaby Balboa Bear
was part of a project for a class of third graders at my former
elementary school. The kids have a deal that whenever one of them
travels, he's supposed to take the bear and a camera with him. The
idea is to take pictures that will be of interest to the class,
and then to write about them in a journal. The whole project is
premised on the belief that a photograph of a stuffed bear in front
of the Empire State building will teach kids more than a picture
of only the building.
My father and I weren't
fond of Barnaby Balboa Bear. For one thing, he had to be carried
around in a fanny-pack. Then there was the humiliation of having
to pose in pictures with him. The two of us wanted to take pictures
like "Barnaby Balboa Bear Meets the Russian Mafia" or
"Barnaby Balboa Bear Visits a Bowery Flophouse." My mother
wanted to do "Barnaby Balboa Bear in a Chinese Store,"
and she got her way.
Naturally, the woman
who owned the store thought we were crazy. She called her husband
over. He thought we were crazy, too, but said it would be okay if
we took a picture. My mother stood, the bear clutched in one hand,
in front of a display of wooden backscratchers. My father took the
picture. The man who had allowed us to take the picture shielded
his face with his hand. I couldn't tell if he was embarrassed for
us or just laughing.
Date: Friday, November
Location: St. Mark's
Place, East Village
Conversation with owner
of vintage shop:
Kate: "Hi, I'm
looking for T-shirts. Do you have any here?"
right next to you."
Kate: "No, I don't
want polyester. I want really thin, soft cotton T-shirts that are
kind of greasy. And have been worn a lot."
Owner: "You mean,
like, with stuff on them?"
Kate: "No, I want
them to be clean. I don't want anything with dried food on it."
Owner: "I mean,
with words on them? Like, with the names of rock groups?"
Kate: "Oh. Yeah."
Owner: "No, we
don't have anything like that here."
Date: Saturday, November
About a month ago, I
read a review of Metamorphoses, a new play based on the myths of
Ovid, in the Wall Street Journal. The review interested me more
than anything else in the newspaper, which is unfortunate, because
the articles about energy prices and Argentina's debt swap were
the ones that showed up on my economics midterm. The bad news is
that I had to drop economics. The good news is that I got to see
I also got to see Lizzy,
a friend from crew. She was sitting a couple of rows over, and I
talked with her before the play began. Lizzy was spending the weekend
in New York with her mother, and they had already gone to MoMA and
to the Met. I hated to tell her that my parents and I had spent
the afternoon combing the East Village for crack dealers.
The trouble didn't start
until the play began. The man seated to my right understood all
the classical references, and wanted to make sure everyone around
him realized it. As soon as he figured out which myth was being
reenacted onstage, he would twitch excitedly.
he said, nudging the man to his right. "That's Narcissus."
The fact that the actor
onstage was supposed to represent Narcissus was so obvious that
there was no dialogue to accompany the scene. The man was crouched
over a pool of water, staring at his reflection. After a while,
another actor came onto the stage, carried the first man away, and
put a pot of white flowers in his place. Of course it was Narcissus.
Everyone else in the theatre could see that, and they weren't patting
themselves on the back. But ol' Edith Hamilton to my right, well,
he thought he was really something.
It gets better. My mother
indignantly reported that she had overheard a woman in the bathroom
say that so-and-so was "a pretty smart cookie, for a woman."
"Are you sure it
was a woman who said that? Maybe it was a misogynistic transvestite,"
I said hopefully.
My mother said that
it had definitely been a woman. And that she hadn't washed her hands
after using the toilet. But the play was good.
You can reach Kate Swearengen