Tuesday, July 22, 2003

The Two New Yorks

New York 1, our local news station, has devoted a lot of time to the death of Celia Cruz, the salsa queen. Their reporters are following around the crowds of people who are following the body from NJ to the NYC funeral home to Florida to St. Patrick's to grave. They are interviewing her fans who never knew her personally, but still weap for her. They sing her songs in the rain outside Campbell's funeral home, and shout "azucar" or sugar which was Cruz's favorite expression.

Most non-hispanic New Yorkers have never heard of her. I saw Cruz belt out numbers, like a latin Ethel Merman, in the movie, Mambo Kings, which doesn't have much going for it except Antonio Banderas and great music.
The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love
was much better.

Whitey might not know Cruz, but Angela doesn't know Stewart. I was stunned to learn last week that Angela, my babysitter, didn't know who Martha Stewart was. Not only was she unaware of the stock deal, but she had never seen her show or her magazine. She didn't know about her striped bath curtains from K-Mart. She had never heard the name before. I guess there hasn't been much on her on Telemundo.

So there are clearly two New Yorks. Two circles that never intersect.

Sometimes I feel that we are in the Latin circle. We live in a Dominican neighborhood. We drink El Presidente. We get rice and beans from el Malecon. But then again, we aren't. We drive down 181st Street and curse at the liberal interpretation of driving rules. Why are they triple parking? Why is it necessary to blast music out of speakers built into the car trunk and then drive down the block? Why aren't the kids in bed by 9:00?

And I don't get following the body around. But I guess all the gringoes followed Princess Di's body around, too. I didn't get that either.

I'm So Tired, So Very Tired
Jonah has suddenly become afraid of the dark and monsters. He begs to sleep in our room, but we put our foot down. Tears and tears. Must read up on this today. More later.

Sometimes Socks Happen
Yesterday, I had a very firm vision of the day. Take it easy. Recover from the weekend. Go to the library at 3:00 for reading hour. Get the kids to sleep early.

But then at noon, Jonah came weeping into the bedroom. He had been flinging a pair of socks around and one fell out the window, down four flights, and was perched on a bush below. We had to quickly get dressed and run out to get it. He said he was very worried about the sock. Since we were dressed, shoes on, and down the stairs, there was no way I was going to go back up and then come out again in a few hours. So we went to Angela's diner for lunch -- silver dollar pancakes and grilled cheese and then to the sultry playground for a couple hours.

That's just how life is these days. You have a plan, but then a white tube sock from Target wafts below.

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