Saturday, July 25, 2015
THE ANNUAL PILGRIMAGE: MOVE-IN DAY AT NYU--FROM THE DEPARTURE LOUNGE--CHAPTER 18
The city doesn’t empty out in August as much as it just falls flat and crawls at thirty three and third. Everything sweats: arms and arms of chairs, sides of beds, remote controls, shot glasses…a sparrow’s dick. It winnows the earth’s savagery down to its basics: first breaths.
Except for move-in day at NYU…
I’d been a student of this particular migration for nearly fifty years: going from nest to nest, leaving the parental roost, and swinging, usually without missing a beat, into the arms of a different breeding ground; a bit intimidating, but not rough—this was New York City in the twenty-first century, not the fucking savannah. Like most everything now, there was just too much money at stake for everybody who stood to make a buck and those spending a buck for the exchange to be fraught with too many external risks. Life is an illusion, of course, and this was a petri dish of urban illusion; control was king in this fiefdom. Shit, they even put up a fucking awning over nearly the entire block where the NYU dorm was in case it threatened to rain. I’d not seen a kid in thirty years walk with a suitcase in hand, alone, trying on his new clothes without benefit of his mother’s hand or his father’s eyes.
The city in their munificence allowed NYU to block off the streets surrounding the two dorms near me for days; little NYU elves stood at the crossroads directing the Esplanades, Navigators, SUV’s, Mercedes, Lexus and Caddy’s, and less dignified modern chariots into spaces near the confines of those Spartan dorm rooms and twenty-four hour a day security.
I’d been living around the corner from these warehouses for our future leaders since Grant was a cadet, and liked to fuck with them as they were breaking through the parental yolk. I was doing them a service: ushering them into their last phase of exemption before they, too, hustled their way toward the boneyard.
This annual pilgrimage had me going from my pad to a brownstone with a stoop that offered some shade from the merciless sun, heat and humidity that refused to abate. I took with me an old and worn copy of a nineteen-sixties tits and ass magazine. On the cover was a sexy coed using her books as her only bodily armor with the caption proclaiming: CAMPUS CUTIES: WHERE TO FIND THE BEST COLLEGE SNATCH. I opened the rag randomly, spread the pages wide, and took up watch.
Out they tumbled. Trucks opened and hatchbacks raised. Mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers, all looked around at this strange new world, this concrete enclave which really only offered them its greatest and most fearful gift: anonymity.
They looked like Linda Blair in The Exorcist. Their heads swiveled three hundred and sixty degrees before they moved to unload their loved ones loot to create a home away from home. Boxes and plastic buckets filled to the brim with every imaginable substitute for the “blue or pink blankie” now morphed into “favorite” undershirt, underwear, jockey, boxer, pantie or thong: fushia, aqua, pink, white, blue, black, yellow or crimson. All stainless and smelling as sweet as a baby’s scalp. Nothing had turned to shit yet. All the notebooks were white and clean. Waiting for their hand to write a sentence, even a word. Classes had not been cut or failed. Romances had yet to bloom or fade. Everything, (my god!), was still possible.
The boys were a bit more sullen and the girls more jiggly. Girls knew early on that their cunts were part of nature, while the boys were still trying to figure out how their dicks were attached and what made them work. Each were pregnant with expectation…and so were their parents.
Particularly suspicious were parents of Middle East descent, followed closely by the Asians. They knew that they might have owned a few square feet of The American Dream, but little else. They’d busted their balls for their darlings, breathing in cleaning fluid or shelling peas while watching their crazed and hair-trigger customers run in and out. They watched with disgust as their culture was being digested into a McDonald’s maw.
The mothers usually brought up the rear, while the fathers pretended to lead the way into the unknown. The white families, a bit more on terra firma, still were in unknown parts of their own particular fears. Sweat was running off them as they piled the computers, T.V’s, hot plates, microwaves, tiny iceboxes, and other electric gadgetry onto carts that other NYU elves so eagerly provided. The kids, however, controlled their cells, iPhones, iPods, Blackberrys, secreted diaphragms, hidden condoms, a stashed pack of smokes, a little reefer maybe, and a few pills for later.
Some parents glanced my way. They saw an old, rumpled, man, smoking a cigarette, laid back, holding a girlie magazine, only his eyes peering over the top lip at the flesh of their flesh. Most looked away quickly; some looked too long.
I saw the bare arms and legs and faces of the twateenis, so smooth, creaseless, unlined. Charlie Chaplin and Julio Romero de Torres would go nuts. Some of them, the high school adventurers, were skilled already in knowing the knowing look of looks. And some boys, curious already about the ways of some men, glanced at me, too. They were the deeper ones, going further than their peers into their own studies and the outreaches of their limited and limiting birthdate. And as each sexy and sex-starved eye caught mine, their parent’s radar unconsciously swiveled their once upon a time sex-starved eyes to the stoop where I sat. The white eyes of fathers unknowingly dismissed me, the Asian ones deferred to the wives, and the Indians didn’t know what the fuck to express. The moms, though, didn’t hide their disdain…and claws. Some of them moved their bodies between my sight and their kids bodies and pushed them onward to the tasks at hand, keeping their feeble bodies and best of intentions between desire and action. It was a battle most them would, if they hadn’t already, lose.
The only remaining trump card that the parents really had was plastic, but it was a pyrrhic victory at best. It would only cost them more money, but would cost me more time and I had precious little of that left to lose. I’d stand behind them for the next four years while they paid for the smallest most inconsequential purchase—a container of milk, a cup of coffee, a pack of Orbit—while I’d shift from foot to foot, getting older, more frustrated and angry, waiting for the transaction to go through. Their bar and marijuana tabs would be handled with cash.
pgs 102-104 of 539--The Departure Lounge
© 2015 Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2015