Monday, February 8, 2010
Children of the Upper East Side
The creepiest words in recorded written history: "Photography and artwork in the family room include...a Warhol that Alexander bought in his teens." -Elle Decor regarding an Upper East Side family
Which is a clear indication that the children of the Upper East Side really need to get their freak on more.
My family and I were in New York City a couple months ago. One evening we finished up the museums and crossed through the north end of Central Park, walking down Park Avenue chatting about what we had seen. I was enjoying the voyeuristic opportunities that the darkening sky offered into the lamplit windows of the Park Avenue homes. I think that's a Picasso....look at that fantastic chandelier! Wow, wallpaper made from real money....
My eyes landed on a window occupied by two children; a little boy and girl. They sat perfectly still, staring out at the world as if they saw nothing but their own reflections in the glass. The girl looked like she had spent the afternoon trying to make her Madame Alexander doll regurgitate what she ate at the tea party so she wouldn't get fat. The boy was bleary-eyed from a day of pre-school entrance exam prep.
Something about them made me very sad. I feared that they might be quoted in Elle Decor one day, saying something similarly creepy and un-childlike about themselves. On impulse, I waved. At first they just stared, immoble. Which caused me to wave with both hands while sticking out my tongue.
I saw a blink and a tiny movement. They looked at each other. I don't happen on Park Avenue every day.
Girl tentatively waves back; a fingers-only wave, not the whole hand or arm. But it's all I need. I start jumping around like a monkey, making faces. Soon, they've pressed themselves against the window and are frantically waving back. Their faces are animated now. I move down Park Avenue this way, walking backwards and really dorking it up for them.
As I start to move out of sight, I turn and allow myself one last wave, two-handed, tongue out.
They are standing up now, pressed against the enormous picture window, arms splayed, as if they're trying to de-materialize and pass through, heads turned southward to keep me in their view until I disappear.
I can't save you, my darlings, I want to shout. But we'll always have this magical moment on Park Avenue.
It was getting dark. My family was a full block ahead of me oblivious to my heroism. My cape fell away; I was just me again. When I caught up, they were talking about the Met. Well, they were talking about what we call "the weapons wing" at the Met. I have real children, not wooden ones who buy Warhols (mine prefer Edward Hopper and Alexander Calder, respectively, but their collecting has taken a hit due to recent allowance cutbacks).
We hopped a Hansom Cab and clip-clopped through the silvery, frosted evening air of Central Park. Past a castle and lakes, the perverts and mimes. A whole fairytale unfolding daily in front of the captive children of the Upper East Side.