Friday, April 18, 2008

Don't get around much anymore?

My wife and I had concert tickets last Sunday, for the Paul Simon 'Under African Skies' show at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (great show. gorgeous music all around, and an electric performance from David Byrne). Some neighbors sat our son as part of a reciprocal deal we have with them and their kid, and before the show we had reservations at a little restaurant in Fort Greene that we love. Crowded place, tables close together, those low ceilings that you have on the ground floor of brownstones -- in short, the kind of place where you have to make an effort not to overhear the conversations of those eating around you.

In the four years since our son's been born, we don't get out to dinner or music or even movies nearly as often as we used to, of course. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but it does mean you have to sort of readjust yourself to an adult evening and try to resurrect your adult conversation skills. Or maybe you don't.

I overheard a little conversation at the table next to me, betwixt two attractive younger hip folks from the neighborhood. The guy was sitting about ten inches off my right elbow, the gal across from him, right about one or two o'clock from me. She wasn't saying much but she was rapt, and he was leaning forward, speaking earnestly, profoundly, saying something like this:

"So they all live in a farmyard. Yeah. No, a farmyard. And she was there. She lives there. And she finds this grain. She wants to make bread, starting from this single grain. Which is a process. A lot of work. And she asks for help. But no one will help her. She keeps asking. But then after she's baked the bread she tells everyone. Look at this bread I made. And they all want some. But she won't let anyone have any. They didn't help, so they get no bread."

Have I missed something in the last four years? This is the current state of NYC conversation? If so, then I'm in pretty good shape with it because my kid lit knowledge is pretty solid. On the other hand, maybe, after four years in the parent game, my brain's been permanently rewired, so that everything I hear somehow gets babbled in my head and translated into the most basic kinds of nursery tales (my wife didn't hear this conversation, I found out later, so as far as I know it could very well be my own messed up brain). Maybe this hip young pair next to us was actually talking profoundly about something adult and New York like Hilary and Barack, or the Whitney Biennial, or the Tribeca Film Festival or bagels or shoes or whatever, and I heard the Story of the Little Red Hen instead. Whoa, dude. That's heavy, right? I love New York.

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