And while the NYC neighborhoods I once lived in are now well out of my price range, my experience – at the time – was of being on the cusp of wealth and danger.
When my ex and I lived in Park Slope, Ben (the alias I have assigned to the ex) described our block as “Park Slop.” It was most definitely on the cusp. Make a left when emerging from the building and you’d soon be walking by the types of brownstones you might purchase if you were to win the lottery. Make a right when emerging from the building and you’re doing another form of gambling altogether…
The same is true of my current hood. In fact, it’s exactly the same. If I hang a left, I will soon be walking in an area that is graced by multimillion-dollar homes. If I hang a right, I will walk into an area from which I sometimes hear gunfire.
But gunfire isn’t the primary noise this time of year (or any time of year, actually). This time of year, the 4th of July noisemakers (firecrackers, M-80s, etc.) are prevalent, and I’ve never understood why they are so enticing. I don’t “get” creating unnecessarily disturbing noise. Fireworks displays are one thing, but noise for the sake of noise? What’s the draw?
Once, when Ben and I were returning from dinner at a nice restaurant closer to Park Slope’s brownstones, we saw a dog lying in front of our apartment building. It was around the 4th of July, and the noise-making had been happening for more than a week. As we approached, we learned that the dog had leapt from an apartment window because it was stunned by the sound of a noise-maker.
So, what did the idiot kids do to get that dog on its feet?
They launched another noise-maker.
Jesus! Do these people not have brains? Or hearts?
Despite the cruel logic, the plan worked. Another noise-maker got the dog on its feet. And bless that beast’s heart for returning home to a place where the humans responsible for its well-being were in fact irresponsible in a really big way.
… On an unrelated occasion (except for the time of year), I traveled with one of my dearest college friends down to Wilmington, Delaware, where we would enjoy the 4th of July holiday with her parents and her myriad siblings (my friend is the oldest of 11). My friend and I took the bus down from NYC. Her husband would be joining us the next day.
After he’d arrived, the three of us and maybe two of my friend’s sisters headed out into the woods that were near their parents’ house. The agenda was noise-making, and they’d brought along the “tools.” I had no interest in creating the noise. I simply came along for the ride.
I have no idea what my friend, her sisters, and her husband were hurling into the dark, but after one of those noise-makers was flung, one of those sisters heard a crackling noise. Fortunately, they moved onto that discovery quickly, and within 30 seconds, they were jumping up and down on the forest fire they had almost started.
It would have really sucked to have been hauled into the police station for that potential carnage, but I gotta say, if that had happened, my desire for freedom and my absolute innocence would have trumped any loyalty to my friends.
Sure, they could have booked them – my friend, a magazine editor; her husband, a doctor.
But me? The waitress in the mix?
“Sorry officer,” I would have said. “I had nothing to do with starting that fire. I came along as a guest.”