Friday, March 18, 2011

"Friday Night Frolic" - Meet Me at the Playground

Internet stock photo. Source unknown.

Or in the park. Or anywhere the warmth of the sun and cool, breezy air conspire to liberate those astrictive burdens weighing heavy in your worn, leather satchel. (Gosh, that arm must be sore.) You might want to swap the satchel for something light, like a crisp canvas tote bag filled with peaches and champagne and a Frisbee. Wear your All Stars. Or your woven slip-on sidewalk surfers. Or flip-flops. Or nothing at all. Bring your felt Indiana Jones hat, or a baseball cap, or a straw fedora, or anything brimmed and easily stolen by the wind.

It's been a long time.

How will I know you? Will you still look the same?

Remember my small Brooklyn Heights apartment on Kane, where I gazed at Lady Liberty from the third floor paint-chipped window? I could walk to the park from there. A long walk. I won't do it like that, though. Not this time. I want to get there quickly. I'll take the subway from Cobble Hill to Prospect Park. (If I can still do that. If it's still there.) Up Flatbush. I always liked the underground surprises along Flatbush.

I'll be waiting for you. At the swings. Adorned in a long, gauzy skirt, white t-shirt, beige linen blazer and crinkle scarf. And flip-flops. We'll spread a colorful cotton Peruvian blanket under a large singing sycamore, pop the cork and consume the fuzzy fruit and bubbly. Our cheeks will blush with a lustrous shade of spring golden rays and mossy budding trees, cherry plumaged cardinals and deep blue blossoming crocuses.

Late afternoon you'll decide to pull the old drum sticks from your tote and bang them against the tin filled with chocolate mouse layer cake. I'll be amazed you've kept them all these years. I'll want to cry, but I won't. The ice cream guy will come by with his cart and you'll buy two vanilla bean ice cream cones, and we'll toss the Frisbee while licking chilly streams of sweet goo slipping off its crunchy, inverted spire.

Then we'll head over to the playground. Remember how we used to play? Hopscotch or jump rope, or the see-saw or monkey bars? You used to dangle from the center bar and never let me pass. We'd spin on the little merry-go-round 'til we were dizzy.

Remember some kid almost lost a leg on that spinny thing? We won't spin this time. But we might hop on the springy frog. We might go for a slide on the big one with bumps in the middle, and jump through recycled tires.

Or we might just sit on the colorful cotton Peruvian blanket, and eat ripe peaches. And layered cake. And vanilla bean ice cream. And we'll listen to spring's symphony:  birds, swaying trees, the little waterfall, babies on the carousel, and pedal boats on the pond.

And get to know one another again.

When it's silent, in that shared-grin moment, we'll know it's time to pack up our bags. We'll meander by the playground one last time. I may even challenge you to a monkey bar duel. But this time, I know you'll let me pass. This time you might even hold my hand. In mid-air. As I pass. Your arm will no longer be sore.

We'll remember that we were always layers of percussion and harmony.

We'll still like each other. A lot.

I'll want you to take the subway back home with me. So we can get there quickly.

*Pearl and the Beard. Percussion and Harmony.*


  1. Beautiful story, with very strong words. Makes me feel very nostalgic. Also, what a gem in 'Pearl and the Beard.' I've never heard of these guys, but am in love with their simple yet catchy music.

  2. very poignant - reminds me of a Suzanne Vega song for some reason.

  3. I love this. It brought back so many memories of my own playground days. You are truly an artist!

  4. When I was a boy Brooklyn was a place one did not go, much like the South Bronx, but going back recently I was amazed at how much it had morphed.

  5. sounds like heaven. my idyllic dreams always have a few turtles basking on an old log ready to slip into the water at a moments notice.

  6. Meet me at the playground, after dark, when the real world has left, bring a couple quarts of malt liquor, bring the pipe and some rock, bring a tenner so when we run out we can score some more on the alley behind the pizza shop, the one with the tribute to the dead brother on the side, watch for the slow cruise of the fuzz and the sudden spark of spotlights, bring a newspaper pillow, let's hope it doesn't rain, the benches aren't so bad to sleep on when we come down, meet me at the park, after dark...

  7. Beer- You can hear this band at local bars/events for $8/tix. They're very entertaining. Excellent melodies and harmony. A lot of talent there. :)

    David- Yeah, I hadn't thought of her, but the sound is familiar. Hmm.

    Tana- I spent much of my youth biking to the parks and playgrounds. I wonder how many kids do that anymore.

    Bob- Thanks! Hope all's well in AZ.

    Laoch- I spent about six months in Brooklyn in the early 80s and loved everything about it. But I didn't venture much beyond the Heights - 'cept for NYC.

    BP- Plenty of turtles in the park!

    Kono- It would be after dark in the Burgh, eh? I'll bring my poncho. ;)

  8. Gorgeous piece Jayne. I could see each scene and the entire essay flow like a poem on wheels.

  9. Really cool! And thanks for introducing Pearl and the Beard to your readers. Stories and music together can be really powerful. :)

    (Family Records' community management intern)

  10. i really liked this story, as i was reading it i kept thinking it would make a nice children's picture book, one of the ones that makes the adult reading it get a little bit onion-eyed by the end.
    fun music too!

  11. Jayne, I enjoyed that visit to the park. I love how you zoom in on random..and ordinary things, breathing life into them and creating a world that is so real.
    Lovely post. Thank you.

  12. Shopgirl- "A poem on wheels" - love that description. I guess it was kind of what I was going for with this piece. There we go with the poems, again!

    Tsuua- Always a pleasure to introduce excellent indie bands. P&B are pure joy.

    id- Thanks for stopping by! A children's picture book, huh? Hmmm... well it wasn't exactly headed in a G-rated direction, but then again, we don't know where it might have ended. As it is, it might work as such. You've hit upon something I've been wanting to do for some time (a children's book). My son might even be able to illustrate it!

    Leah- Glad you enjoyed it. The randomness and ordinariness of life intrigues me. It is what it is, right? Not every moment can be big and explosive! But in those random and ordinary things there's much meaning. But you already know that. ;)

  13. Love, love this! So personal, and yet you've touched a core of the human experience -- childhood play, falling in love, that sense of history shared with a loved one, the busyness that distracts, the need to just go have a picnic. Beautifully written, Jayne. And thanks for more great music, too.

  14. What a wonderful, involving post. I kind of get that Suzanne Vega vibe too!

  15. Life is good on days like these. Sometimes I think that Spring is such inspiration for them ...

  16. Well, naturally, I'm late. It's already Monday, and I'm just now catching up to last Friday.
    I think it was the wonderful weather calling me away from the computer...
    It sounds like you had the same idea.

  17. Seré - so glad you liked it. Working on my fiction! :)

    Lydia- I think I'm going to have to revisit Suzanne Vega for some writerly inspiration!

    Joanne- I know. And what does it do but go and snow and rain today. Well, at least I had the weekend. ;)

    Nessa- I know how it is - I'm always catching up! Seems like I fall further behind with each day. So much to keep up with (but all good here!). :)