Baby Yr A Firework

At the end of my last post, I was skipping off into the mountains with my three year old, ready to put all my “creating with kids” ideas into serious practice. Which was kind of a personal failings disaster. I had a great time connecting with other writers, and adored the reading we did in town on Saturday night. But the experience of parenting solo in a rustic environment in which I was very out of my element was a practice of learning where my weak points are, and then coming up against them, over and over.

She's better at nature than me. She also may have gotten more writing done than I did. Olive FTW.

She’s better at nature than me. She also may have gotten more writing done than I did. Olive FTW.

I was not very patient with my happy, boisterous kid, who, for the record, had the time of her life. And I did not write very many words. I did do one quick write with the group which I’ll share with you here:

Baby You’re A Firework

New York thought I was Katy Perry. Parked illegally outside Russ and Daughters in my cousin’s minivan, holding it down while everyone was inside getting us bagels, creamcheese, lox, halvah and chocolate, I checked my lipstick in the pull down mirror, even though nobody gave a fuck what I looked like on this bagel run. A New York City cop walked by, and my heart rate rose – was I about to get busted? I hadn’t driven in over a year, nevermind a caribou of a minivan in the West Village. If I had to drive it around the block, I might just keep going, all the way to Fire Island.

The cop did a double take. Shit. I was totally going to get a ticket. He ambled over, taking his hat off, peering into the driver’s side window. I rolled it down, trying to look as blasé as possible, like I had no idea I wasn’t in a proper parking space. “Miss Perry, how’s it going today?”

“Excuse me?”

“Oh, I thought you were Katy Perry! The singer?”

We both laughed, me with relief that his ticket book was not in his hand, he with the pick-up-line-esque comment he’d delivered.

“Nope. Just a mom waiting for bagels.” I said.

At a wedding at the Botanical Gardens in the Bronx a few nights later, the dude serving drinks said the same thing. “This one’s on me, Katy Perry.” I slugged it back like a lumberjack.

I guess I should be flattered and I definitely enjoyed the privileges associated with looking like a chubbier version of a pop star, but I sort of wish it was someone whose work I actually respected, instead of a person knowing for shooting fireworks out of her bra.

Roxane Gay, maybe? Do cops let tickets slide for looking like Rebecca Solnit?


Speaking of fireworks and unsolicited attention from men, I totally did magic on one of my street harassers the other day.

It was a hard day for catcalling, which is different from the celebrity-based flirting I describe in the above piece. It’s way more intrusive and sinister, and some days it happens all day long, like a shark feeding frenzy. I never see these coming, and have begun to believe they are astrological, not based on how I look or what I’m wearing – usually, like the other day, I am clothed nearly head-to-toe on the days that it happens repeatedly. I recently bought a bad-ass biker jacket to wear to the Beyoncé show, which I thought would make me look too tough to talk to. Not the case.

Anyway, after the third dude that day had approached me (“I’ll do anything for you baby, just tell me what to do, anything!” Um, plz burst into flames k thanx bai), I was over it, and I had a Harry-Potter-at-the-Zoo moment.

Homeboy was walking towards me at the bus stop at 18th and Mission, after I had rebuffed his attempt to talk to me at the bus shelter. It was hot. I was carrying a heavy bag of my daughter’s library books with me. There’s no way I was going to let this bruh scare me away from getting a ride on the bus. He was yelling and cursing me out, getting slowly closer, as he was using a cane (it takes all kinds, folks). I began swinging my library bag around my body, creating a circle of containment around myself. As I did this, I looked at the dood and wished he would back the f up. All of a sudden, a firecracker sprang out of nowhere and went off at his feet. When the loud crack sounded, my once-fearless harasser looked at me with terrified eyes, his body tensed and frozen. I couldn’t help but crack up in laughter.

I have no idea where that firecracker came from. Maybe I really am a firework. Or maybe mo’fos should watch themselves before they street harass a witch.

We got on the bus and he was spitting mad, telling the driver that I tried to kill him! No one believed him, and I laughed it off, annoyed to be taking the bus with him but happy to be catching a ride.

The next day I got a very witchy tattoo, an Infinity symbol on my wrist.

Getting tatted

Despite knowing way more about where my failings lie, I feel stronger every day.


5 thoughts on “Baby Yr A Firework

  1. Holy shit Rhea! Your bravery is always inspiring and you are a firework! (Although it saddens me how often you have to don your super hero persona just to walk around the neighborhood). I would never link you with Katy Perry, but I do live her music! Maybe we can go out as Katy Perry and Jennifer Beals!

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