Wednesday, 3 December 2008
Take The Shame!
My sister sent some money 'cause things had gone to hell
She said, "You don't belong there Honey, a trip home will do you well."
On a three day smelly bus ride away from what had been obscene
turned my nose to New York City where the air was fresh and clean.
Pulled into Central Station, a different kind of highland
was met by my dear sister, a castaway on Gov'nors Isand.
Being broke was half the trouble,and we played it like a game
but the nasty shoe debacle, well it made me take the shame.
I didn't know quite what to do, but I knew I had a job,
a suit of hounds-tooth off 'The Give', and my hair cut in a bob.
The suit was fitting perfectly, for shoes we found some flats
pink with silver circled cut-outs, kind of clownish without spats.
Well I stood there in a laugh-cry, 'cause my job was in the city
I gotta make these babies black or be lookin' 'Hello Kitty'.
So she gets that strange expression, perhaps as from the Lord
In an empty apartment down the hall was some paint for the old baseboard.
We laughed the night we dipped the shoes,laughed until we cried
And early the next morning, it seemed the paint had dried.
You could see that they were shiny and ready for the weather
and from an eyeball's distance they could pass for patent leather.
I was ever careful as I slipped my stockinged toes
into brand new 'hello baseboard' shoes and no-frills tailored clothes.
Mincing along, but gingerly I hopped aboard the ferry
missed the bus to Beekman, in the dark, the walk was scary.
Made it the building not a minute did I lose
I tidied up my hair and then I glanced down at my shoes...
Blasted bloody got 'em muddy, bits of paper grass and sand
I heard my toes scream out, "Hey, buddy, for shoes, tar paint is banned!"
Quickly then I kicked 'em off and tried to wipe 'em clean
but every little thing unstuck took off the tacky sheen.
I did my best to conceal a sob but had to pay my dues
as more than one allergic snob caught sight of battered shoes.
I tried to blacken out the pink, with a big old magic marker
but folks complained about the 'stink', and not a day was darker.
At 5 PM, back on the street, with nowhere else to roam
my misery was made replete, as I tracked some more dirt home.
I remember the night well, first a trip to the 'GIVE' - a community table in the common laundry room , where rejected stuff gets a second chance... it was a cold and dark fall night in NYC. Now back upstairs with our find- a pair of pink flats and a hounds tooth suit- bright idea #1- Paint the shoes black. I remember the empty apt. just down the hall. The pungent paint odors still wafting. The workmen were there earlier that day scraping up the old lamimate tiles in the small apt. That apt faced east, overlooking the Verezano Bridge. I remember seeing it sparkling like a diamond necklace as I cracked a window to abate the fumes. "It's around somewhere", I thought to my self, "Keep looking". The men were using this tarry black substance to paint old rubber base board or glue tile down. It would work nicely to cover over the pink & silver 1980's shoes. I was never the brightest crayon in the box, but that paint could save my sister the embarrasment of not having proper shoes to wear on her first day on the job. Mom always said, " Necessity is the mother of invention". I had only one choice. Get that black tarpaint and a brush. It wouldnt take much. The door was left open. I snuck in and grabbed what was left. Yes, we dipped the shoes, laid them on the heater on an opened brown bag, praying they would dry over night. So they didnt. Hence the shame. We did laugh till we cried, and I'm sure I peed my pants! I cried when I saw you walk through the door that next evening- everything that the streets of lower Manhattan could afford stuck tightly to those things... you name it it was on there. What you do for love! Sorry sis, we tried. Thanks! Your poem is so funny! I laugh my head off remembering. Love you.