The Red Balloon

So I’m here, in Brooklyn New Fucking York! Land of a thousand brownstone brick buildings and gaslights. Old stomping grounds of my favorite writer, and social commentator  Henry Miller. And home to seemingly endless swaths of attractive, partially clothed people.

I’m on vacation. I’ve never been to New York City before. Hi!

My flight over was mostly unremarkable, except for the hot Argentinian couple making out in the seats next to me. Actually, I’m pretty sure they’re the same couple who has plagued me on the last few flights I’ve been on.

I won’t lie. When this happens, I always feel the urge to rise up and strike the suckface couple with some kind of insult. Something clever, like “get a room!”  or “PUH-LEEZ.”

But along with this irrationally violent urge, comes another voice, struggling to be heard among the din of cliche insults. It says “Hey, little buddy. Why such a downer? These two attractive people are just showing their love for eachother! They are not murdering, littering,  or stealing your iphone. They are just kissing! With tongue. And groping in an NC17 way. What if it was you? What if you were in love? It could be you someday! Would you want some bitter, rageful spinster thinking evil things about you? No? Well, stop!”

Fortunately, United Airlines offfers plenty of TV shows and movies to distract one and all from lustful groping couples. I watched Grand Budapest Hotel (excellent) The Wild and Wonderful Whites (about a tapdancing redneck family from Virginia) and 4 full episodes of Broad City. (And for those of you who are wondering–I’m still not a fan!  I think I’m just too old. I’m all “dude, who smokes cheeb at work? Who rolls around dentist waiting room floors? young stupid people. sigh.”)

I’m lodging with my brother-from-another-mother Sam in Brooklyn, near Prospect Park. Sam, for most of his adullt life, has lived like a migratory bird. San Francisco, then New York, then Berlin, then San Francisco, repeat repeat repeat repeat. I wasn’t sure what kind of accomodations I’d be looking at, since the whole time I’ve known Sam he’s never really unpacked his suitcases. I envisioned a mattress, and a towel. Maybe a glass of water. But what a lovely surprise, to discover Sam has now officially settled in to a lovely, spacious, clean,  grown-up 2 bedroom apartment, with furniture and garbage cans! I have my own private bedroom that opens out to a balcony. Spoiled rotten already.

I got in at about 8:00 pm last night. We had dinner at a crazy good  ramen joint up the street, and then we sat and drank wine on the balcony listening to people blow shit up for the 4th of July.

Despite my struggles with insomnia, doom and anxiety fits, I fell asleep pretty quickly–leaving the screen door open so the fresh summery air could lull me to sleep.

I woke up at 4:30 am to pee. As I was sitting on the toilet, I felt something brushing up againist my cheek. I took a wild, oafish swing at what turned out to be a helium balloon, patrolling the house at half-mast.

I layed down to sleep, and then I heard a dreaded but familiar sound: A mosquito buzzing in my ear. (For those who not be knowing-even though I grew up in the mosquito smog of the midwest, the Bay Area is mercifullly bug free, save for the occasional cockroach or house spider. ) Grumbling, I covered my ears with a sheet and tried to sleep, but I could still hear it. bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Cranky, and unable to take it anymore, I turned off the lights, vowing to hunt down the motherfucker. I searched, but I didn’t find the mosquito. I layed on the top of the sheets, in my underwear, offering my body as a living mosquito trap. A human blood bag, waiting for the landing that would end in a sniper slap.

But nothing happened. The mosquito was nowhere to be found. Perhaps new york mosquitos are too smart to fall for such an obvious ruse. Then, I thought “fuck. maybe there IS no mosquito. Maybe the mosquito is in my head. MAYBE I AM THE MOSQUITO.”

I turned off the lights again, wondering what it would be like to have to feed my children blood collected from cranky old broads. The birds were starting to wake up. Within a few minutes, a whole crackhead riot of birds was chirping.

And then, I felt it. Something landed on my arm. In the half-light I could see a speck of black. I waited for a moment, and then I struck.

After I killed the mosquito, and beat the shit out of an innocent balloon, I hoped sleep would return. But just as I was about to drift off, I heard a series of loud popping sounds from what sounded like the livingroom. Unable to make any sense of it, I thought perahps the balloon and all it’s balloon brothers (there are several in Sam’s house, leftover from some birhday party of something) committed suicide on a key hook or something. I heard Sam get up, and walk to the livingroom. Then he went back to bed. I concluded whatever it was, it was not serious. And finally, I slept.

This morning, we had lunch in Flatbush (ladies, don’t let your bush go flat).

Up next: A prospect park hangout, a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, and dinner in Chinatown with one of my  dear old friends Messy. (AKA Aunt Sharon) It’ll be my first trip to Manhattan, and I can’t wait to get into the swampy thick of it.

And now, I will leave you with a photo montage of the red balloon that follows me sadly around Sam’s apartment,  like an abused creature begging for an apology. I’m starting to grow fond of it now.






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