So my luggage pulley broke today. Or better said I had enough of its malfunctionings. It showed signs of demise for the last week, but I thought it might survive this week. It was sturdier than the previous one that had the insides of the wheels made of plastic, that one died in two months, this one was made all of metal. Thing is that the back of the frame had some curvy slope and it would always get stuck in the bus step when I’d get on the bus, and when I’d get off when the bus driver would not be mindful and pull all the way to the sidewalk, my wheels, if I pushed the cart in front of me, would fall in between the sidewalk edge and the bus step and I’d get stuck again, so lately I valiantly started to pull it behind me, not push it in front of me, and just made the jump from the bus step onto the sidewalk over the gap between the bus step and the sidewalk edge. But in time the thingies, its extra metal anchors that were welded on the main frame got torn, and then the frame would push on the wheel tire on the right side and then it would be like a brake, so every block or so I’d have to stop and dislodge the frame, push it back from the wheel, and then again at the cracks between concrete slabs would pull the brake, so I took to walking on the even, asphalted main road, near the sidewalk. But even so today on my way back it gave me grief every half a block or so, large avenue block. It was after seven in the evening, so past rush hour, but still the traffic on East 58th Street between Park Avenue and Lexington, and so on, going east, nearby the bridge that goes to Queens, was jammed with yellow cabs, probably the end of the shift, and here I was pulling my ambulatory store on the tricky wheels. Well, I was stuck between taxis, and each time my cart would get stuck, I’d take my time and fix it with my foot, no matter that the driver behind me started honking. I have the right to take space in the traffic, I’m a vehicle, and that’s that. So after three or so stops of mine, I hear this fellow yelling in a thick accent, “I feel sorry for your husband!” I don’t pay mind, because I am adamant about keeping my cool and exercising my rights. In a block or so again, “I feel sorry for your husband!” I didn’t even look over my shoulder to see if the guy was talking to me, but of course he was talking to me. Yelling rather.
When I arrived by a parking lot and the sidewalk had no edge so the cars could drive smoothly out and in the parking lot, I went on the sidewalk, since the traffic was bogged down anyway and I could make more progress rolling on the sidewalk, but also maybe because I had enough of aggravating the moron, and I was mentally occupied with sorting out what the heck he meant with his, “I feel sorry for your husband!” it was meant as an insult, obviously, but what does it really mean? Was he sorry for my husband because I was such a lousy wife, in his mind? Or he was sorry for my husband because he was a lousy husband letting his wife drag ambulatory stores after her? My ambulatory store consists of two matching suitcases on top of each other filled with art work, and a foldable table with a foldable stool inside. It is chic. I often get compliments how ingenious it is. I also get ugly looks on the bus from righteous matrons and patriarchs that don’t venture past 96th Street Uptown, though I take less space than people who come with their luggage from the airport.
Anyhow, for a few blocks I keep on thinking what does, “I feel sorry for your husband!” mean? Am I supposed to start crying and hide in my burka in a corner filled with shame? What does it mean, “I feel sorry for your husband!”?! And I surely scramble my brains for comeback lines. I should have told him, since my husband died, “Oh, don’t feel sorry for him. He’s in Heavens now entertained by 72 virgins. He beat you to it, Taliban.” But that would mean my husband is a terrorist, as my son points out.
Then maybe I should have told the taxi driver nonchalantly, “I feel sorry for your husband too!” Now that would have been an ultimate insult, call the Taliban man a homosexual! Oh, that would have been great! But I don’t think that fast on my feet.
We were in the kitchen dealing with the chocolate cake, my son advising how I should skim the frosting off the cake, that’s what Americans do, he said. He skimmed the frosting from the slice he ate, but left it on the cake cardboard box bottom, maybe we need it later. I guffaw, “It rubs on you!” He doesn’t understand until I explain that children of Holocaust survivors have all kinds of inherited trouble, much like he, the son of a communism starvation survivor, that is, I, the scrapping hoarder, now saves the cake frosting, though he abhors my thousands of things I jammed in our Manhattan cubicley apartment. He laughs, saying I make jokes like he does, three-times removed, that’s why he knows we are relatives. He makes jokes three-times removed and either people get them or they don’t.
Or often he throws back the same insult, turning it into nonsense. Definitely runs in the family, he declares.
And we laugh, and we laugh, and I love my family and I love my city and my freedom in it.
“I feel so sorry for your husband!”
The business of husbands keeps on popping up.
Yesterday I had to buy a new hand truck for my store on wheels, the third since I started my street vending enterprise. Actually fourth if I count Yussuf’s that was on loan at the beginning of my vending days. His was very sturdy, so I asked him where I can get one too. He said by Broadway and 28th Street. When I got off the subway elevator I saw a man with a perfect hand truck and I asked him where he got his, he said 30th Street and Broadway. Indeed in front of a luggage store there were three types of hand trucks, I got the best, the largest, though it has two small extra wheels, so I fear it might be too complicated to handle. I haggled it down from $50 to $40, and even so it’s quite an investment. I carried it gingerly, not slammed it about like I did with the previous one. I even envisaged me asking the bus driver to lower the ramp he uses for wheelchair drivers. I cringe he might holler at me, that I’m no handicapped person. Some bus drivers are little autocrats. I have one each time he’d see me getting on thru the middle door, he’d come and insist on me getting off, which I did, though I don’t think he was legally entitled. Now when I see him arriving thru the bus window I don’t get on the bus. Once he got off just seeing me in the bus stop and then I told him to go drive his bus and leave me alone, am I on his bus? No. He turned around in silence. Another time we waited for the bus for almost an hour, and I told the driver so. He said, “I don’t know why are you telling me that?! My bus is on time!” “Aren’t you working for the same company?!” I struggled with the truck but couldn’t get to the bus middle, so when it was my stop, I had to exit thru the front door, and most of the standing passengers would just not budge, giving me ugly looks. One lady had a box on the floor and I asked her to kindly place it on the rise that buses have on the right in front, and she refused. So I had to put it up for her, drag my truck and then put her box again on the floor. The bus driver shouted at the rest of the passengers to get off, let me escape the bus trap. Perhaps you think all this is pathetic? Why I don’t get a storage unit nearby the vending location, or get in a taxi, perhaps? I would, but money is scarce.
Anyway, with my new hand truck in tow I had to attend an exhibition opening because I got this idea for an exhibition about being an American. I thought it would be great for people in Romania to understand that they don’t know as much as they think about the USA. All they know is from the Hollywood movies and the TV news. They really think America is the Bush administration, the government, and can’t understand that the people of America are not to blame for some of the government’s decisions that affect them. So I thought of inviting various artists to contribute their art work for a showing in Romania. This gallery I was invited to had a previous show on patriotism and one picture stayed with me, so I thought I’d approach the gallery owner with an invitation to participate in our overseas show. Well, it’s all fine, but you can’t possibly make a good impression by showing up at a vernissage with a hand truck, can you? Lucky me two blocks from the art gallery I spot a Blick art supply store and I know you have to leave your luggage at their counter upon entering the store. I avail myself of their service, then go along the isles filled with acryl paint and brushes and mats, and ask a store attendant where’s the bathroom? No bathroom. Two blocks from the store there’s a Starbucks, he advises me to use their bloody corporate toilet. Okay. I go presumably on an emergency departure to the Starbucks, walk fast by the counter and my hand truck stored nicely there, and I make my appearance at the gallery party. Well, of course I pay my dues and check out the art work. Lots and lots of variations of black and white large pictures of pears, frazzled tulips, and mushrooms, Chanterelles to be precise, all at $2,500 a piece. So I’m done in no time with the distinguished art show. I imagine the artist is a kind housewife from New Jersey, who fell out of step with the times. I mean, who indulges in black and white analog photography, mushrooms and flowers?! Some nostalgic Ansel Adams fan. Anyway, I go about my errand, introduce myself to the hostess, who summons the gallery owner. I wait munching on salami, strawberries, water melon cubes, grapes and fancy crackers. A gentleman approaches me showing appreciation for my pale lavender dress. I thank him. He delights that I matched my gauze scarf with my dress. I thank him again. He laughs amiably that it looks like a nightgown, as if I was in bed with my husband and I threw the cover aside and knocked him, elbowed him away, “I got to go to this exhibition opening! Stay out of my way!” “I certainly didn’t want to make that impression!” I retort puzzled. It is true I don’t iron my clothing anymore, so the few crease s might have made this artist have this image of my marital bliss. The gallery owner arrives, we exchange business cards, she points out the artist who created the mushrooms and frazzled tulips: it’s a stocky transvestite or transgendered person with an unfortunate beefy face of a stevedore, a bottle blonde in a pastel dress, its red enormous feet perched on white platform sandals. Now, don’t think I’m a prejudiced person. I love Eddie Izzard. But ugly is ugly. Which would be fine, but pretentious ugly is not. So. As I pitch the gallery owner my idea I see several people, probably eager artists that want to network, converging towards me, like a school of fish.
I must flee. I use the bathroom facility. I realize I am not able to accommodate artists who sell mushrooms and pears and tulips for $2,500 apiece and their brethren. I am a socially conscious struggler who has to pick up her hand truck. I must flee back home before my presumed husband notices I went carousing to gallery openings without him.
At the art supply store I go to the shelves and pick felt pompons made by women in Nepal. I shall make colorful bracelets out of them. I pay and get my hand truck back with a clear conscience.
At home my son inspects the hand truck and declares it a serious, solid item.
Thursday, August 22, 2013
New York City
Well, here you have it: If you’d like to throw a bit of money my way to keep my endeavors going, and also enable me to spread the money to my various causes, witnessing democracy, freedom of speech and faith, and engineering social change thru art being some of them, I’d be grateful.