You Can Take the Boy Out of Brooklyn

City & Country, Home & Away
“Leaving New York City is always a weird thing for me.”
You Can Take the Boy Out of BrooklynChapter: SchoolLess Speaks
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L eaving New York City is always a weird thing for me.  Too much slow walking, too much slow talking.  I used to always say, “I wanna live in the country when I grow up.”  I think the exact opposite now.

I took Amtrak to Albany.  The conductor sat me next to an 11-year-old girl who would not stop talking and laughing on the phone.  “But he’s so annoyin’, I wanted to punch him so bad.” 

There was someone I wanted to punch. 

The whole way two conductors sat across from us.

Conductor Jeff: So we’ll meet in the parking lot, right?

Conductor Carl: We can go in the forest, there’s less police there. 

He pointed inside his coat and smiled. 

A minute later he gave me candy but kept his “business” for himself.  He was saying he didn’t need IT because “I’m not shaking anymore,” whatever that meant. 

About five minutes later, his phone rang:  He picked up and fled toward the far side of the train, but I heard just fine.

“What the [shmoo]?  I didn’t give a [shmoo] when you came to the [shmooing] home!  I could’ve gone to watch the [shmooing] Jets game!”

He came back, red as a man who just got in a fight with his wife.  Everyone giggled.

“Shmoo you all!”  Conductor Carl yelled. 

He grunted.  ”Except you,” he added, pointing at me.

I went to Pine Cobble School where my uncle Rick teaches literature and history.  The schoolyard was at least the size of our local park.  My jealousy started.  The school looked like a mansion.  It turned out, it really had been.

I walked in and greeted my uncle who was wearing some, uh, funky stuff: a red button down shirt with a bright green bow tie, similarly green pants, and a brown vest.  Half cowboy, half clown.  Love ya Rick.

I helped his hyperactive eighth grade class write a script about a girl with lesbian moms.

He then took me across the campus/forest/village to a second building, where I watched the chorus.  They had maybe 10 keyboards, all working, and with headphones.  Suburban kids just don’t get it how lucky they are.  Of course, they also don’t get how much they’re missing.

The music program looked great.  Some people had insane voices but, of course, there were exceptions. I won’t name names, even though my dad wants me to.  They even had a poster of Bix Beiderbecke, a great jazz cornetist from the swing era, who very few non-musicians know of.

On Wednesday, my last day, I helped make a Thanksgiving feast.  I peeled potatoes for almost two hours.  I think I permanently damaged muscles in my wrist and made myself eternally afraid of peelers.  We ate candy and listened to Jay-Z, Black Eyed Peas, and Rihana, not exactly fitting my Bebop, Swing, and ‘80’s taste.

I took advantage of the sleepy town and read a lot during my visit: Behemoth and Teen Angst.  Some people may say, “Reading!  That’s all you’re doing?”  And that’s often what I say too. But my dad assures me that it will pay off.  And I am starting to believe him. 

It was quiet, except for Kuma.  Kuma is my aunt’s and uncle’s French bulldog.  The name Kuma (bear, in Japanese) really fits his personality.  He is about one foot tall, can jump as high as my brother SmallerMan, and squeals like him too.  I honestly think something he does stimulates brain cells because I was reading double or triple my normal speed.  

Between visits to Pine Cobble, I went to my aunt’s classes at Williams.  I can’t exactly remember what they were called, but they both had something to do with sexuality. 

“Well, you can’t stop people from having sex,” someone said.  The genius.   

We looked at some pictures that symbolized AIDS.  The students loved the one called, “Blood and Semen,” and had no problem talking about it.  I never realized sexuality played such a big part in our nation’s history. It is used to represent or advocate so many different things.  As Jenna Maroney in 30 Rock says, “I will help you Liz…with my sexuality!”

I was jealous when I was visiting Pine Cobble but, as I’ve found with the country, I would get very easily bored.  I need constant busyness and freedom to go places on my own (except on weekdays between 9:30 and 12:00— I learned my lesson).  Seeing 9th graders being picked up by their parents still makes no sense to me.  So I guess I’m not really jealous.  You can’t take the Brooklyn out of the boy, and please, please, try not to take the boy out of Brooklyn too much.

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