A rainy Saturday. What to do? It would have been easy enough to let the kids play computer all day, to stay inside. But, following as it did a "sick day," I had cabin fever. I decided, instead, to drag my family into the city for a little culture, for a visit to The New Museum, a hip modern museum on the Bowery in Manhattan that we joined excitedly nearly a year ago and have visited exactly once.
The web site showed they had a cool new sculpture exhibit that took over three whole floors by an artist, Urs Fischer, who did over-the-top things like build houses out of bread and made an enormous tongue that jutted straight out, as if exploding, from the wall. I knew these things would appeal to my kids.
"Cool!" they said when I told them where we were going, the kinds of things we might see. Phew. Museums, ones for adults as well as kids, are not always an easy sell.
We drove in as a result of our laziness and the fact that the city has seen fit to shut down the F train on the weekends for a while. Necessary, I guess, but not very nice. I must say, though, that it always feels decadent to drive into the city, to cruise through the throngs ensconced in a private, climate-controlled, music-filled environment that takes you exactly where you want to go. Well, not exactly. But finding parking means you will be forced to explore areas you might not otherwise, to see streets you would never walk down, find things, like the amazing old Marble Cemetery we came upon on 2nd St. with the unbelievable old gnarled trees or the little hidden garden on the corner of 3rd Ave. and Houston, an oasis with a turtle- and coi-filled pond just steps away from the hustle and bustle of crowds. We decided to wait to hit the Dumpling Festival happening across Houston until after the museum.
We arrived to find the Urs Fischer exhibit was still being installed, that there was only one floor, a teaser of what was to come. It was, indeed, very cool. One piece featured a cut-off subway bench and a large piece of luggage, both attached to the wall, and a pink frosted cake with snails eating it hovering, hard to tell how, in the middle of the two. The kids were entranced by how it hung.
"Definitely, it's a magnet," Oscar proclaimed. He has impressed us before with his artistic eye. At MOMA, at 3, he had looked at a piece in the regular collection featuring a stool with a rake dangling overhead and shook his head. "I don't get it..." he said, as if everything else in the museum made sense except this shlock. He sounded like my Dad, an artist himself, always the critic, condemning nearly everything except Rembrandt, the Master.
We were done more quickly than we wanted to be, sad to only see the first few pieces of what promises to be an amazing exhibit. Standing outside, in the rain, waiting for the others to use the bathroom, Oscar pointed at a metal stand with a buzzer on it. "What's that for?" he asked.
I looked at it, looked around. We were standing in front of the museum's office door, the door for deliveries.
"This is where the artists deliver their work," I said.
Oscar looked pensive. "Well," he said after a moment. "If making websites doesn't work out for me and Eli, then I'm going to be a camp counselor." I waited. This had to have something to do with the delivery buzzer. Then, he got there. "And if that doesn't work out, I'm going to be an artist."
I smiled. "Cool," I said. "Actually, you could easily be all three. Web designing is definitely artistic, and you could be a camp counselor in the summer!"
He nodded. Sure. It was a plan. Or maybe not. Maybe he would be something else entirely. As the rest of our party returned and we headed back to the car (the dumplings having all been sold, despite the rain), he began to come up with new career choices as he looked around. Nearly everything was a possibility.
"I could be a filler person," he said, as we passed a gas station.
"Officially, that is called a 'gas station attendant," I said, avoiding any inclination I might have had to pass judgment.
We passed a storefront for the Hari Krishna and another that housed the local chapter of Hell's Angels, but, luckily, Oscar didn't notice either one. Not that I will have any say what he does, who he becomes, but...some life choices just seem harder than others.
I wanted to give Oscar a gold star for his openness, for thinking early and often about what might fulfill him in his life. I didn't have any on me, though, and, anyway, since the day he covered his whole shirt with them and they ended up coming off and getting stuck on everything, he refuses them. I gave him a kiss instead and my honest opinion:
"You can be anything you want to be," I said.