I am convinced that you see the craziest shit on the NYC subways on Saturdays.
Singing has officially been a part of my life since I was in second grade.
After 13 years of being an NYC resident, I find myself getting stressed about things I shouldn’t worry about.
The MTA 44 select bus service runs through my neighborhood and I take it to Williamsburg to get my hair cut.
The screaming grew louder and louder. Not everyone could hear it over Fina Estampa, but two women on the top riser could. They turned around and saw the soprano, red-faced, head to head with the overnight guard. Screaming bloody murder, pointing her finger at him and grabbing her neck with the other hand like she was choking.
The overnight guard was an elderly black man and it was unclear if the situation was about to unfold as most horror films do, where he would be the first victim. But luckily for him, she spun off into a back room and she continued to scream and bang things against the wall.
It was silent for a moment but then she came racing back into the church with a vengeance. Screaming, gasping for air, and stomping her feet on the floor. No one paid her any mind, like how you might treat a two-year-old throwing a tantrum.
Just another one of her episodes.
Her growls and gasps got louder as she turned towards the 81-year-old conductor. The soprano crept toward her, like a cat on the prowl.
That’s when it hit me. This is how I die.
Well, maybe this is how our conductor dies, but I was more worried about myself.
In an instant, I had it all figured out. It was going to be one of those church shootings that end up on the news. A homegrown terrorist attack that everyone mourns but does nothing about.
The headline would read: Loner Woman Kills 30 in Church Massacre.
They would show all of our pictures in the paper. Tell stories about how wonderful we were. Even the meanest of the bunch would have their praises shouted.
People would leave flowers outside the church. Family members from all over the country would gather and say, enough is enough. Stop the gun violence! Cuomo would stand with the despondent survivors while de Blasio asked for change.
The possessed soprano’s neighbors would be on the news explaining that they had no idea that she was capable of this. “She always kept to herself, but she didn’t seem dangerous. Although there was that one summer we kept seeing dead animals in her backyard. That was weird.”
They would find out that this woman was on some sort of medication that had the side-effect of homicidal ideations and her overbearing mother pushed her over the edge.
I stopped singing as she reached the conductor and yelled in her face, “I can’t breathe. I have an allergic rash!”
The conductor stopped, looked at all of us, sighed and said, “Can someone please help her?”
One of the altos took her in the back room to comfort her.
Just another one of her episodes.
Everyone was annoyed.
What the fuck?
The woman next to me asked, “What could possibly have given her an allergic rash? We are in a church after hours. No flowers. No incense. Nothing.”
The overnight guard had used some citrus scented cleaner somewhere in the church that threw this woman into a frenzy and he was to blame for her almost dying. I figure, if you have issues such as killer rashes from orange cleansers, you should most likely be prepared at all times.
I was happy that I evaded death that evening and I learned two things in the process:
1. I have been stressed that this concert may not go well but in the grand scheme of things, who cares? We could all be dead tomorrow because of citrus cleaners.
2. Someone should bring citrus scents to ward off this soprano at every rehearsal. She isn’t good for morale.
Plus her performance clearly outshined ours that night.
It’s a risk we simply can’t take again.
The alto peeked out the octagonal window and saw an angry bespectacled face smooshed up against the glass. She cracked the door to see who it was.
It was the damn piccolo player.
This guy is quite the character. He is always late and looks like a cross between an old Vermonter and a disheveled guy from Bay Ridge. His uniform is navy cargo pants, black boots, wide navy suspenders, a t-shirt that always seems to be untucked where his belly hangs down, and he dons a pinky ring that catches the light as he plays.
Despite his appearance, when he puts that piccolo to his mouth, magic happens.
He rushed into the church and ran up to the conductor. He said, “I am sorry I am late.”, to which she coldly replied, “So am I.”
The piccolo player quickly unpacked his instrument and tuned it with the piano. Then they all started in on the song. Their first attempt was quite successful and the intermission demarkation had been reached so it was time for a break. The choir, ever impatient, started shouting, “we need to take a break!” “Please let us sit down!”
The break was announced and the choir scattered themselves around the church to rest. A small group of people ventured off to use the dark restroom. The break was uneventful until the grumpiest alto started shouting across the church at a soprano who was talking incredibly loud, “SARAH SHUT UP! SARAH BE QUIET! SARAH SHHHHUUUTTT UPPPP!”
That was when it was determined that the break was over.
It was now time to reassemble on the risers and to sing the tangos with the bandoneon player. As if they hadn’t just had a break, a bunch of the men sat down on the risers, too lazy to stand for the tango solo. The sound was like a herd of cattle banging up against a steel door.
The bandoneon player stretched his instrument and filled it with air and he began playing.
His nimble fingers flew across the buttons as he squeezed and pulled his instrument producing a sound that can only be described as “old world.”
As the music grew faster, a few people spotted the soprano at the back of the church, clutching her chest and falling against the wall. She stood up, fell again, and more people caught on. Someone muttered, “looks like she is having another one of her episodes.”
This woman barely spoke to anyone. She always carried her mobile phone in a huge crocheted pouch that she wore around her neck. She lived with her parents and was around 30-years old. She never made eye contact with anyone and avoided conversation.
Now she was gasping for air and clutching her chest, while her phone pouch swung back and forth in a hypnotic manner. If she needed 9-1-1, all she needed to do was reach in her pouch and make the call. But, she just reeled around and around, making an ungodly noise.
As the music continued, she got closer and closer to the risers, falling into the rows of pews that she passed. Her eyes possessed. Her voice ragged as she gasped.
She disappeared behind the choir but the music continued.
That’s when the screaming started…
To be continued.
She was standing at the back on the church, clutching her chest and loudly gasping for air. The gasps were so dramatic, they could be heard over Guantanamera. Her eyes angry, like she was possessed by a devil. Then she disappeared into the rows of pews.
This is how I die.
As I age, I am reminded that the saying “time flies” has some validity. I was hit with this realization last night, through the discovery of some expired products on our liquor shelf.
I am currently getting ready for an annual party we throw at our apartment. We bought the booze this past week and I went through our liquor shelf to get rid of anything we didn’t need anymore, so we could store the two handles of rum we brought home.
There were three unopened bottles of grenadine that I figured could be used for our hurricane punch. I checked the expiration date just to be sure but all three bottles had expired in 2016.
I purchased the bottles of grenadine in 2013 in bulk, because I couldn’t find grenadine in the neighborhood. Grenadine can now be found at the local Key Food so no need to buy in bulk anymore.
As I was dumping the bottles down the sink, the sticky red liquid reminded me of how quickly my life is flying by. I thought about getting excited to drink Shirley Temples while out to dinner as a kid and how adult they made me feel. Eating the maraschino cherry off a blue, mini plastic sword, feeling like a princess.
It’s a 30-year old memory, which to me, means an ancient memory. But, in the grand scheme of the universe, 30 years is just the blink of an eye.
Thank you, grenadine, for that gentle reminder.
Andy (my husband) has always held some distain for Grandma the Clown. We have never been to the Big Apple Circus, but the commercials and subway ads were enough to turn him against the locally famous clown. Every time he saw Grandma the Clown he would yell at the tv, “I fucking hate that guy!”
It was reported yesterday that Grandma the Clown left the Big Apple Circus due to sexual misconduct. He admitted to forcing an underage woman to pose for pornographic photos.
Andy gleefully told me the news last night. To be clear he wasn’t condoning the sexual abuse but noting his ability to sense what a scumbag this guy was long before the truth of his character broke in the news.
I have known Andy for 12 years, and he has always carried a deep hatred for three entertainers in particular: Bill Cosby, Kevin Spacey, and Grandma the Clown. Admitting his hatred of the three started long before their sexual abuse allegations went public. The last 12 months have been particularly interesting and Andy’s pride in being able to sniff out sexual abusers has grown.
There are no doubt other famous men that are on his list of hated celebrities, and perhaps this year, he will continue to feel vindicated for trusting his gut.
It seems as if the Google Arts & Culture App has gone viral over this past weekend. When my mother sends me selfies that match her face with faces appearing in well-known pieces of art, you know shit has gone viral.
On Monday, someone I know posted his art matches on Instagram with the caption, “This thing is broken.” He is a 38-year-old, black man and his first match was a picture of Dr. Martin Luther King, and the second and third matches were white women.
He posted more results today. One was a statue of an unknown black child and the other two were of white, European men. His caption was a skull and coffin. Dead.
When I saw his MLK match on Monday I shook my head. I was outraged but then I had to remind myself of the tendency of fine art, throughout the ages, to favor white Europeans.
Because of this favoritism, the art database Google is drawing from is most likely skewed white. Therefore, if you are not white and you use this app, you will probably get at least one or two ridiculous results.
So, next time you are wondering if you are privileged or not, think about your Google Arts & Culture app results. If all of your art matches match your skin tone and/or ethnicity, you might be privileged.