April 25, 2006
It was raining yesterday so I headed to the Brooklyn Museum with my son. If you happen to be in the neighborhood and happen to have a toddler this is a good outing as the Brooklyn Museum is a) kind of empty b) full of interesting objects, and c) a large enclosed space in which to roam. Raul Andres delights in veering from room to room checking out the art along the way. He is particularly attracted to the European Renaissance paintings and African sculpture. The draw in both cases is simple: boobs. He pointed out each and every pair (actually triples on some of the African sculptures) for me over and over again.
At one point in the museum we encountered an escalator and something caught his eye. Right away I knew what fascinated him, not the stairs themselves, but a big red button on the bottom labeled 'push in case of emergency'. I am well acquainted with this particular class of button. When I was a 3 or 4 we lived in Houston. Mothers in 1970s Houston did not go to parks (Houston is unbearably hot, unbearably humid), they went to air conditioned department stores: Foleys, Joske's, Sakowitz or they walked around the ice skating rink in the then new Galleria. All these stores had escalators and all the escalators had those friendly red buttons labeled "Push in case of emergency".
I don't remember the first time gave into temptation, but I remember the effect. One punch and the escalator stopped short. Everyone riding up made synchronized "oooh" sounds and rumbling motor went silent... I remember a feeling washing over me--exaggerated joy coupled with fear. Nobody noticed my crime so I quickly stepped away and became very interested in my shoes. Soon every chance I could slip away from my mom (which wasn't difficult as there were 3 of us), I would scurry over to an escalator (always the up escalators so as to not be seen by people coming down) and make my move. Eventually of course, I was caught. Eventually we were all banned from Foley's. Eventually the fear of god was put into me should I ever again push one of those buttons. And one day I stopped caring passing the bottoms of escalators with only the slightest of downward glances.
So yesterday I found myself, a good 35 years later looking at my son, recognizing the want and glee in his eyes as he studied the button. Seeing him circle the obviously forbidden object I thought to myself, "Just go for it. I'll pretend I didn't see."