Friday, July 29, 2016

Oui



Across from our hotel on the Lower East Side there's a shop that delivers, via bike, cookies until 3 am. Cookies are actually not my drug of choice but I do more than a little damage at Economy Candy a few blocks over. Laura, however is partial to the snickerdoodles so we make a late night stop. Four kids man the tiny store, a girl works the counter and three others sit huddled together on the floor in the back. The employees are all in their early twenties and I wonder how they handle working through the night. Where do they commute from? How do they live? Don't their mothers worry? Laura debates with herself whether to get one cookie or two. I am captivated by a beautiful song. “Who is that?” I ask. They are pleased that I want to know and report “Jeremih. We head out into the sultry night and they all harmonize along with the lilting chorus.

I tell my kids that I've heard a song that I love. They are derisive about my fondness for Bow Wow and Gym Class Heroes so I am afraid they'll ridicule me. Jeremih however impresses them. I download his music and like a lot of it. The song that captivates me in the cookie store is “Oui” and I am embarrassed by the number of times that I play it. A lot of the other songs, even pretty ones are remarkably dirty. I've switched from explicit to the radio version but the bleeps are just toothpaste that you can't put back in the tube.

The 60s musical “Hair” had some shocking lyrics which would have likely shocked me even more if I'd actually known what they meant. When I was in high school, in 1973, a sensation was the Billy Joel song “Captain Jack” which included the word “masturbate.” I imagine my parents were certain that all this filth heralded the end of civilization. Now Viagra commercials with 4 hour erection admonishments are on every channel. A new spot has three bikini clad models standing with little bonsais obscuring their pubes. Two of them struggle with ordinary razors which result in a shaggy mess. The third uses a new bikini shaver and trims her little shrub in to perfect heart shape. Perhaps the subtlety escapes some viewers but I feel a tinge of prudery at this demonstration of a better way to shave your bush.

Even before reaching adolescence I wrote my parents off as old fogeys. As I find myself frequently embarrassed by what's now acceptable in popular culture I realize that every generation finds their elders brittle and uptight. Still, when a presidential nominee screams “fuck 'em” in the middle of a campaign speech I think that maybe it's OK to be a little old school.

The convention is a good excuse for me to remain on the couch. If it hadn't been on I likely would have still been splayed out there watching other crap but given the historic significance I feel slightly less guilty about my indolence. I guess the event is a successful one because I am less depressed about Bernie's loss, and not as cynical about Hillary, since watching. I am suspicious about Hillary's beholdeness to banks and the like and concerned about her hawkish inclinations but I also believe that she is sincere in the concessions she's made to the Bernies and that the platform is the most progressive one since the 60s. Hillary isn't my first choice but I'm over it and give myself permission to go all verklempt at the prospect of our first woman president.

Number One son's relo to Chicago is done deal. A one year lease is signed and a trailer hitch is being installed on his tiny Toyota. A week after he leaves a Korean exchange student will move into his room. I call Spuds about the disposition of the items he's left behind. I guess because my mom moved me back into a smaller bedroom each of the many times my sister returned home in crisis, I am sensitive about childhood rooms. I assure Spuds that everything important to him will be stored and that we will always be able to make room for him when he comes home. I am tearful making this proclamation but Spuds is largely indifferent. He just asks that I not be judgmental about the crap he amassed in high school and adds that, having lived so far away for so long, it doesn't really feel like his home anymore anyway. I think these words are intended to comfort me but they just compound the sorrow I feel in the wake of his brother's departure.

I've firmly averred that the decision to quit a job in his field, that he likes, and move to a city he's never even visited is potential folly. Nevertheless I am helping Number One son collect moving boxes and prepare for the imminent journey. Perhaps graveyard shifts at shit jobs, living on dollar meals and rice and beans is the shape of things to come. One of the lyrics from “Oui” is “Go anywhere baby. I don't mind. Grown man in my suit and tie.” The transition of being a mother to boys to being the mother of men is a rough one. Chicago is out of my power. I hope at least he'll be around other nice kids. And maybe they'll sing.