We parked on Washington Street and Fifth. I just went for the first available spot. The last two days of driving around in circles waiting for a free space had me all preemptive. I got out and got the baby out. She was sleeping and sweaty. It was 95 degrees and we were on the shady side of the day. Still here we were in Hoboken looking for the Elysian field of legend. It’s not true that you have to die first. It’s here, or at least a part of it is.
It seems to be recently that as I walk the streets pushing the baby about that we are open to suggestion, available for comment, suckers for advice. I don’t know whether it’s New York/New Jersey specifically but I don’t remember it happening to me before back in England.
Hey, mister, fix her neck! Or… Hey, mister, her hat is slipping! Hey, mister, you should cover her legs! Put something on her feet! Hey, your blanket is twisted!
They shout at me from across streets and from their windows, assuming I am a new father in need of assistance. I don’t ask for it, but I ask for it just by the way I walk I guess. It gets so that it makes me testy and I tell all these busy old women to fuck off under my breath, because it all comes from women of a certain age. They know best.
Then today as we cross Frank Sinatra Boulevard in search of some history I hear a smoky female voice berating me for something I can’t quite catch. I see her then on the opposite side of the street, all bent and knock-kneed, wearing yellow, she’s like a bruised banana. I check the baby quickly as we walk towards her and can see nothing wrong. Still the woman shouts something. The traffic drowns out her voice but I am getting near. She has a hand out, open palm upward, with one long finger like a hawthorn twig pointing at us. I avoid eye contact but am ready to snap at her with some choice cursing if she so much as dares to undermine my parenting. But what she says as we reach the kerb is, “And you’ve got nice socks on!”
I have got socks on it is true. They are not nice though. I don’t understand what she means. I could try to but it would be guesswork and I am busy searching for something else.