Archives For Double Dutch

I love this.

I love this.

 

After I pulled my Achilles tendon masturbating exercising last week, I had to face facts: I am old.

Not grandma-take-your-false-teeth-out-to give a guy a blow jay old, but

Middle Aged.

Let’s see. Today, I got excited about half priced asparagus.
Last week, I found a grey hair in my eyebrow. I tweezed that bitch out, and I think I scared the others away.

 

A few months ago, I turned 45. And it made me think about some of the things I no longer do, now that I’m old.

 

PARTY HEAVILY

Those carefree days of college drinking to the point of getting your stomach pumped are over.  At 21, it’s cool to coming home puking at 5 am, wondering where your underwear went.

The last time I drank heavily, my old college boyfriend poisoned me with Vodka and Red Bull. It took me three days to recover. I laid on the couch feeling like a swamp donkey, praying my eyeballs wouldn’t fall out.

At this age, I realize that nothing good has ever come out of waking up on a strange lawn covered in mysterious contusions. Ditto trekking through the snow in the wee hours in search of a drug dealer and a bar still open.  Do you really think when you get inside that the shitty, drug-thirsty patrons are going to get more pleasant rather than desperate and sad? NEVER.

 

WEAR SHORT SHORTS AND KNEE HIGH BOOTS

It’s no secret that I dress like a teenager in a frantic attempt to beat back death. But last summer my BFF staged a fashion intervention when I tried to pull off short shorts and knee-high boots. Apparently, at 45, it doesn’t say “fashion forward” as much as “old hooker.” Ditto the sky-high plastic heels from Frederick’s of Hollywood, which paradoxically, turn a confident sexy stride into a penguin shuffle.

She also encouraged me to light a bonfire and throw some of my slogan tee shirts in it. I guess Jesus really isn’t my homeboy.

However, I adamantly refuse to stop shopping in the junior department. Especially for panties. I feel safer knowing Spiderman is guarding my crotch.

 

DOUBLE DUTCH JUMP ROPE

As a kid, I was REALLY GOOD at Double Dutch. Damn.

It was sublime to be a white girl working it on a black housing project playground, executing a perfect Double Dutch circle turn – which is all about turning speed, leg position, and listening to the ropes.

While visiting my cousin in Brooklyn, I happened upon a group of kids jumping rope and decided to join in, to see if I still had it.

I didn’t. I was way less a Double Dutch diva and waay more a hulking Quasimodo, getting publicly flogged.

 

ATTEMPT ANYTHING I’VE SEEN IN A CARTOON

As a kid I always imagined I could walk in mid-air after stepping off a cliff. Sadly, I know better now.

I also realize that:

I can’t have access to any item, i.e., a canoe, by simply reaching behind me,

Getting electrocuted will NOT turn me momentarily into a skeleton,

If someone points a rifle at me, I cannot tie the barrel into a knot,

If I’m really surprised by what I’m seeing, my eyes will NOT temporarily pop out of my head. Accompanied by an AAAAAOOOOOOGA sound.

 

CLIMB THE MONKEY BARS AT THE PLAYGROUND

I used to love running around on a playground when Little Dude was 3 or 4. But somehow, I went to sleep on the eve of my 40th birthday with a youthful, supple back, and awoke the next morning with the back of an 85-year-old potato farmer.

Remember when playgrounds were fun? Sure, there was a good chance you’d be scalded by a hot metal slide, or walk away with tetanus, but that’s what memories are made of.

The ground wasn’t coated with soft recycled rubber as most are today – they were asphalt. Remember being hurled from a spinning merry-go-round, praying you wouldn’t end up a flesh-colored stain on the asphalt? Good times.

 

DO “THE SAFETY DANCE” 

This was perhaps one of the most bizarre song/videos to come out of the 80’s. Someone, probably Johnny Depp’s acting coach, directed a crazy Canadian band called ‘Men Without Hats’ on a bizarre romp through a medieval village. This reenactment of a Renaissance fair gone horribly awry starred a handsome lead singer, a dwarf, and a deranged blonde woman.

Picture Tywin Lannister’s children tripping balls, and you have the idea.

When I did the Safety Dance 20 years ago, people recognized what I was doing. Now? Nobody understands that I’m flinging my arms stiffly into an “S” position. They think I’m having a seizure.

 

LAP DANCE AT PARTIES

No one wants a lap dance from a drunken, makeup-smeared middle-aged woman at the company holiday party.

But when I was 25? I INVENTED that shit.

 

TALK LIKE A GANGSTA 

I may write things like, “I’ll cut a bitch!” But I never would say it out loud. No 45-year-old suburban woman should.

You’re sitting behind the wheel of a Honda Odyssey with groceries from Costco melting in the back. You’re in the parent pick-up line at school, not a character in Orange is the New Black. Calm the fuck down.

 

CRUSH ON BOY BANDS

As a girl, I was obsessed with the Jackson 5. My early masturbatory fantasies involved Jermaine and Marlon duking it out over who would get to deflower me.

Even as a 20-something, I unapologetically crushed on Color Me Badd. You remember them, don’t you? Their big hit, “I Wanna Sex You Up,” was notable for coining the douchiest come-on line ever, and is probably responsible for making their sole source of income residual checks from VH1’s “Where Are They Now” show.

But nowadays? Un-uh. After I described to a friend a sex dream I had about Kendall from Big Time Rush, I was accused of being “creepy.” People! He’s only in high school on the TV show! The lad is 24!

Still, my advice? Go into ‘private session’ mode on Spotify. Otherwise, everyone can see your “recently played” list and you look like a pedophile.

 

PUT UP WITH BULL SHIT

That’s the upside to middle age. You take the “fuck you” pill. Life is too short to take people’s bullshit.

If some wealthy, self-involved, yuppie/hipster, granola-eating broad at Whole Foods wants to wrongly accuse me of jumping the line, she’d better not get nasty with me. Cause I will cut a bitch!

 

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go yell at some kids to GET OFF MY LAWN!!

 

 

For your viewing pleasure: The Safety Dance
The power lines scattered throughout the Medieval village just add to the surreal, WTF? quality of it all.

 

What things do you no longer do, that you used to?
Talk to me.  I’m listening. 

15369855-mmmain

 

I hate thinking about where I grew up.

I’ve written about it before. That housing project. The poverty. The ugliness. The emotional damage.

The fear. The lack of safety.

Being a lone white face in sea of black. Persecuted for the color of my skin.

Hanging on the lovely terrace

 

RZA, the brilliant rapper, actor, producer and mastermind of hiphop group Wu-Tang Clan called out my neighborhood in what is considered one of his best songs, “Impossible.”

Stapleton’s been stamped as a concentration camp.”

Enough.

Today, I want to remember what was BEAUTIFUL about growing up in that housing project. And to reclaim, and yes- embrace,

BEING A PROJECT GIRL.

 

 

COMMUNITY.

It took work to fit in. But in a housing project, there is a sense of community.

My God, it was a beautiful thing.

In the middle of all of the buildings was a huge playground. ALWAYS filled with laughing children, even in winter.

KaBoom gear

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You didn’t have to have anyone “watch” you. There were always parents outside, and they looked out for everyone’s kids.

Where I live now, in the suburbs, nobody plays outside. When I take my son bike riding around the neighborhood, we  spot the occasional kid running around in his back yard.

He’s always from Brooklyn.

In the projects, when you stepped outside, there was magic.

Skelly. Hopscotch. Bikes, scooters. Basketball. Really, really good hoops- banging a jump shot was an ART form. Little Dude is not that into sports, but he plays basketball every week at the local Y because…because.

And jump rope.

Heart. Squeeze.

I was REALLY GOOD at Double Dutch.

The TRICK is to enter from the side, not the middle– to stand close enough to the turner to where you could touch her shoulder.

I cannot adequately express how it feels to be a white girl working it on a housing project playground.

Executing a perfect Double Dutch circle turn, which is all about turning speed, leg position, and listening, yes, listening to the ropes…

Then touch the ground while jumping, and exit, all without missing a step.

Damn. If it’s even 40 degrees this weekend, I’d love to see if I still got it.

 

 

FIRE HYDRANTS

Everyone here has swimming pools.

What they don’t know is the sheer ecstasy of unleashing an icy cold blast of water from a fire hydrant on a 95 degree day. That oasis from the baking heat.

The city got tired of kids jimmying the fire hydrants open with monkey wrenches, and eventually installed sprinkler caps that could be opened on those hot days.

The only way my kid could ever appreciate this is to have him hang out in a blistering heat wave for 4 days straight –

with no air conditioning.

And then unleash the COLDEST WATER EVER on him and his friends, while they jumped and screamed like maniacs.

 

hydrant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I know that the image of an opened hydrant for many signifies “ghetto.”

But for me, an open hydrant is a joyful NYC tradition of a working class neighborhood in the summer.

 

 

MUSIC.

I had older brothers school me in rock. But the soundtrack to the playground was R&B. That was the beat that throbbed through the projects, and in my blood, where it traveled to my heart and lives forever.

It gave me RHYTHM. Shit, I can DANCE.

I was 10 when that first explosion of rap tore up the housing project and laid eggs in my brain that never left.

Sugarhill Gang “Rapper’s Delight.”

I’m a sucker for old skool stuff. And those 90’s rap jams? When I was clubbing?

I know why I don’t always fit in here. Even though I turn down the music when I pick my kid up at his friend’s house, it’s so loud the parents can hear NWA blasting “Kill the Police” as I roll up the street.

And it probably scares them a little.

 

 

WALKING EVERYWHERE

Because you could. A housing project is it’s own microcosm of society. Everything is within walking distance. Schools. Stores.

Broad Street had everything.

Store of a Million Items, (you could DIVE in with 3 bucks and not surface for DAYS), Mauro’s Pizzeria, Tung Bo Chinese, Andy’s Candy.

And in the 70’s, a kid could walk 4 blocks to a candy store alone and it was okay. Which led to wondrous journeys.

The place I walked the most was exactly 5 blocks from my apartment.
And walk there I did. Starting at the age of 7.

 

THE LIBRARY.

 

My Shrine

My Shrine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I searched for pictures, this came up. This gloriousness.

childrens_room_stapleton_-_photo_by_jonathan_blanc.inline vertical (1)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The original library is now THE CHILDREN’S ROOM.

The New York Public Library renovated my old library, doubling its original size. It now includes a light-filled, sleek, 7,000-square-foot addition connected to the original 4,800 square-foot-branch.

HUGE. HEART. SQUEEZE.  Right. About. Now.

 

TOLERANCE

I endured a lot of racism.

But I also grew up comfortable around all kinds of people, which prepared me for life in the real world, as it should be.

And I get to pass that on to my son. Although it’s challenging to find that kind of diversity where we live, he is growing up with the kind of acceptance that most adults around here lack.

We are surrounded by racism, but my background has afforded me the ability to spare my child, he who is the consciousness of tomorrow, that ignorance.

Perhaps, this was the greatest blessing of all.

I AM A PROJECT GIRL.

It’s such an odd duality of my existence – my educated side, the spiritual and loving person; juxtaposed with this ghetto project girl.

Being a project girl is a double-edged sword. It gave me a toughness and an ability to survive things that most people do not possess. But I sometimes respond to the challenges of life like a trapped rat, lashing out in anger.

As brilliant Brenda from Burns the Fire articulated it,
“I am fearless and filled with fear.”

 

 

I’M A PROJECT GIRL.

When my kid came home from kindergarten 6 years ago, and told me some kid had been messing with him at recess, I did not do any of the things a “typical” suburban mom would do.

I did not call the school. Email the teacher. Reach out to this other child’s parents.

I leaned in to my boy’s face, and said, “the next time he messes with you, you just PUNCH HIM IN THE FACE.”

And the next time this kid tried to mess with Little Dude,

SHIT GOT REAL, YO. 

And my kid, while no bully, has never been picked on since.

 

My then husband just laughed.

“You can take the girl out of the projects, but you can’t take the projects out of the girl.”

Werd.

 

I’ll lead you out with LL Cool J’s 1990 ode to the Project Girl, “Round the Way Girl,” which he was singing Just. For. Me.

meow.

 

 

What was it like where you grew up? Did you fit in?
Talk to me. I’m listening.