At the risk of burning the George Washington BridgeDoug French
If you’ve ever read my stuff, you know I’m a big fan of Louie. The show and the man. And as it happens, his family trajectory and mine have been eerily similar over the past decade; we’re about the same age, we married at the same time, have kids about the same age, and we’re both recently divorced.
Now, we’re both single dads living in Manhattan with 50/50 custody of two children. And whenever I watch his newest show–which is about a single dad living in Manhattan with 50/50 custody of his children–he pours my heart out because I see what he sees, and I live what he lives. Except for the hugely successful comedy career.
In a recent episode, Louie is on a subway platform listening to a busking violinist. And just as he is starting to lose himself in the beauty of the song and the amazing talent bringing it forth, a filthy, homeless man staggers next to the violinist, strips to the waist, and starts rinsing his ass crack with a bottle of foamy, brownish stuff that you hope is water.
This is the paradox of New York City, the place you love and hate and love and hate and love, that nurtures creativity with one sooty hand and chokes it with the other, as exciting and replete a slophole as you could ever want to inhabit. This paradox also formed the fulcrum of the months-long debate between ManMe and DadMe, over whether it was time to move out and raise the kids somewhere else.
ManMe has loved it here since he took that 2BR in Union Square in 1991. He is a child in an amusement park, who can get just about anything at any hour, and who can get hammered and pay someone in a yellow car to take him home. DadMe grew up in the suburbs, and although he was cool with having little kids in the big city, he knew he’d never have the stomach or the wallet to get them through high school here. He has nothing against all the adults who manage to do exactly that; he just agrees to disagree with them. The Me’s duked it out over most of the spring, and ultimately, the winning Me had four lives to think about instead of one.
Now that I’ve found my house in Ann Arbor, I’m back in New York for a bit of a valedictory lap around my favorite places. I’ve eaten some great nosh, gotten SRO tickets for The Book of Mormon, and had great nights with great people from all over my life who want to see me off this island with a hug and a few fingers of Knob Creek. It’s been enough to give ManMe a huge wave of nostalgic Apple Pangs.
Then I woke up to read that a drunken, off-duty cop had allegedly raped a young teacher 20 feet from my bedroom window. And even though we all know there is ugliness everywhere, that struck both ManMe and DadMe as a little too close to home. For the first time, we both agree it’s time to take our home somewhere else.
Sorry, New York. Your ass crack just ate your violin.