Welcome to New York City!
“Fuck, shit, fuck, cock, damn!” the old man swore to himself.
It happened so fast that I didn’t have time to cover up my 5, 7, and 9-year-old’s ears.
‘Welcome to New York City!’ I thought to myself.
When I anticipated exploring The Big Apple, I thought about showing my daughters the Museum of Modern Art, taking the ferry to Staten Island to the Statue of Liberty and strolling through Central Park to have a picnic. I wasn’t planning on expanding their vocabulary. The girls looked at the old man in surprise. He was wearing florescent legwarmers, shorty-short shorts and a skin-tight lime green Mini Mouse tank top. As I quickly whisked them away down 5th Avenue I tried to explain to them what Tourette’s Syndrome was because I thought it would be the easiest and most diplomatic explanation. I had no idea how to explain his interesting choice of clothes though.
I must admit I didn’t anticipate the various ill-clad homeless people, transvestites, and other indescribable eccentrics and oddballs that purveyed the urban New York landscape. If anything, we stuck out more because of the conservatism of our clothes. The kids were being exposed to a melting pot of multiculturalism at its best as they took in the smells and tastes of unfamiliar foods, like curries, foot-long hot dogs and American pretzels.
Being animal lovers, my kids wanted to pat all the dogs they saw, even the ones held by the massive, armed policemen on the street corners. My girls thought every animal in that crazy city was cute, including the disease-infested subway rats! They were so excited to see their first squirrels that when I wasn’t looking, my youngest daughter shared her lunch with the mangiest, most disgusting looking one. By that time, I had already dissolved a whole bottle of hand sanitizer on their little palms.
On my girls’ first-ever subway ride, I had to remove the girls’ jaws from the floor, after a man with no arms or legs wheeled past us in his wheelchair into the next subway car. He had a tin can attached to his chair to collect coins.
“I am really lucky to have arms and legs aren’t I mummy?” my 5-year-old said with a great deal of sadness and empathy in her eyes.
“Yes darling,” I replied as she thoughtfully gazed out the window.
All three girls sat in silence for the first time since we had arrived.
Yes, we did make it the museums and the landmarks, but in the end, we got a far juicier bite out of the Big Apple than we ever would have expected.