T-Rex and Kong: Swoon 60
Pleasantville is about 30 miles north of Manhattan. More suburb than vacation destination, people fleeing the city due to the pandemic drive right past our exit while heading upstate. We do have one new family since lockdown…a family of dinosaurs. First, it was just one lone T-Rex, checking things out for the rest of the clan, he* ran through the neighborhood feeling out his welcome. We did not tell him to go back to where he came from, we embraced his uniqueness. After a few weeks, the rest of the family showed up. They are a healthy group…some days they run together, other times they take a solitary stroll. Their presence brings joy and laughter during this time of ever growing fog and confusion. T-Rex sightings posted in real time on FB update us when they are out and about…they are on Romer Avenue, they just turned onto Bedford Road…quick go look! The family made an appearance at the farmers market and at the teacher appreciation day drive by at the elementary school. They remind me of one Halloween during elementary school…when I was kidnapped by the Son of Kong.
My bestie was a teeny tiny girl named Deirdre. She sounded like Bea Arthur, had wild curly hair, was brilliant, and her parents were health food people before there even were health food people (no Twinkies for her, she had sunflower seeds). She lived in an apartment complex in Jamaica Queens and she was bussed to school. Being the only white kid on the bus never seemed to phase her, and I never thought about it until I went to her house for a sleepover. It was the first time in my life I was the minority. Every little kid should experience that.
I invited Deirdre to spend Halloween with me, her first house-to-house trick-or-treating experience, we were beyond giddy walking home from school with our friend Richard. It was warm and sunny and there would be no stupid coats ruining our costumes. We were on Center Drive, just blocks from home when a white station wagon with wood panelling pulled up. A gorilla leapt from the car and threw us in the way back, then drove off. Richard realized his brother was driving, I realized my cousin was in the middle row, and poor Deirdre seemed traumatized…until she saw that we were laughing.
The gaggle of teenage boys invaded our house to tell my mom of their escapades and to eat warm chocolate chip cookies. They had just returned from the Empire State Building, where one boy sported the gorilla suit and tried to gain entrance by paying with a banana… declaring “I need to see where my father died”. If I remember correctly, the kid in the gorilla outfit got in for the banana, the rest paid to go up top.
My mother, being my mother… asked to borrow the gorilla suit. She planned on hiding behind “big tree” to scare kids after they got their treats. It all went well, kids squealing and parents laughing as she hoo hoo hooed, acting like an ape. Such fun…until she tried it on a group of middle school boys. They watched her come from behind the tree and screamed GET HER! taking off after her with shaving cream and eggs. She ran down the block screaming STOP, I AM MRS. MUENCH, I KNOW YOUR MOTHERS!
I stood frozen, I mean really, what does one do in this situation. She was heading toward the bay, it was dark, she would be fine…right? I am pretty sure my dad’s response was to just get up from the couch and take over giving out candy. No. Reaction. Which of course says all that needs to be said. A bit later Mom showed up at the backdoor a bit shaken but fine. The story goes that the boys followed her for two blocks then gave up when she tucked into someone’s backyard, going from unlit yard to unlit yard until arriving home. The potential for Big Foot sightings in Douglaston that night was large.
People who are willing to be ridiculous…are gifts to the universe.
I would like to imagine, years from now, someone will be writing their memories of being a child during “The Pandemic of 2020”. There was no school, no parties, no trips to the pool, no playdates, and no grandparent hugs… but there was a T-Rex, who jogged through town, spreading so so so…very much joy.
*he, she, they, substitute as you wish.