Tuesday after school, Henry and I headed to a nearby playground. When we got there he went straight for a seal statue that sits right in the center of the playground. It’s supposed to spout water in the summer, although I’ve never seen it work.
He sat down on it. “This is my favorite seal,” he said. “This is my best friend. My best seal friend.”
“Really,” I said, “You’ve never mentioned him.”
“He is my best friend, and his name,” Henry declared, “is Frompy.”
“Frompy. I love him so, so much. I lie down on him, and I look up at the sky, and I dream. I dream of Frompy. At night I come here all by myself and I play with him.”
“Does he come to life?”
“No, he does not come to life.” He glared at me. I would never understand! About Frompy!
“I have to say, I’ve never seen you even look at him before.”
“And when I have to leave him I am so, so sad, I miss him so much because Frompy is my best friend ever in my whole world.” He started to tear up.
Then Henry leapt off the statue and announced that it was time to see “the crazy dancers.” The “crazy dancers” he refers to are African natives performing ceremonial dances; they can be seen on video at the Brooklyn Museum, which is mere steps away from the playground we were in. I happen to have a museum pass and I wanted to nip in the bud any Frompy-related hysteria, so I said sure! Museum it is!
Oh, dear god, was he happy. Time to see the crazy dancers! He loves the crazy dancers. He asks to see them all the time, and every time he does this spazzy little jig.
So we headed for the museum, and when we got there I let Henry hit the button to open the handicapped/stroller entrance door. Only nothing happened, because the museum was closed.
Joy turned to outrage and tears. “I am so disappointed,” he wept, “Why won’t you let me see the crazy dancers?” I tried to explain that I couldn’t make them open the museum, but he wasn’t buying it. We sat on a bench near the entrance and I held him while he railed against me and the museum and all the forces that were keeping him from crazy-dance appreciation.
Inevitably, a man with some sort of disability approached us. He was mewling in a disconcerting way, but then I looked at him and he had the sweetest expression, and he only wanted to help and I was a jerk for thinking I should get Henry out of there before he came any closer. He reached into his bag, pulled out a pack of Wrigley’s, and waved it toward Henry. “That’s okay,” I said.
He shook his head and started digging around in his bag. He pulled out a mangled candy bar. “Really, we’re fine,” I said, holding up my hand as he tried to give it to Henry.
Then he handed me a can of Chef Boyardee. Henry took notice. “What is he giving us?” he asked. “Spaghetti in a can,” I said, as I tried to shake my head in as friendly a way as I could manage. He rummaged and rummaged some more, and then he took out a biscuit. A completely intact biscuit had somehow managed to survive the contents of his bag. I said goodbye and Henry said “No, THANK YOU” to the biscuit and we walked away, but I kind of wanted to see what would come next. A layer cake? A roast chicken?
On our way home Henry kept trying to tell me something complicated about treasure maps, but I was pushing him in his stroller and all I could hear was his shouting “YOU’RE NOT LISTENING.” I stopped and leaned over to tell him I couldn’t hear him, and a man came out of nowhere, grinning at us. “What are you doing!” he said. “Are you having a problem!”
“We’re talking,” I said.
“Talking is good! I want to talk to you about Jesus today!” and then he handed me a pamphlet. I saw the words “End of Days” and I grabbed it because I love me the crazy pamphlets. “Thanks!” I said, and walked away. He was still talking.
“There are crazy people out today, Henry,” I said, and he said, “But are they dancers?”