Tuesday, March 07, 2006

A trip to the museum--as a bipolar sufferer

After going to the tenement museum on Saturday with my sis, I came to the sick realization that my old apt really was a glorified tenement building. Actually, the apartments that we saw on the tour were in better shape than the seventh floor walk-up fire trap I lived in my first year as a bonnafide NYer.

My sister needed to go for her school project, and she wanted me to go with her because, “Shannon, you’ll just make fun of everyone and everything so it’s bound to be interesting.” Being cooped up in my apartment all night Fri and Saturday morning due to my impending applications that for some reason are not magically completing themselves, I was in one of my signature manic moods. Life is fabulous. I love everyone. And I love poking fun of hypocrisy and fucking polite society and being a jerk back to assholes.

From the moment I met up with my sister, I was on a roll.

As part of her assignment, my sister needs to tour the tenement museum and write about her experiences. However, like her big sister, she fails to pay attention to the little details, such as the address of the place. It’s 2:30 by the time we meet up and head over to the vicinity of the museum, still unsure of the exact address. Keep in mind she needs to be at a party on the Upper East side by 5pm, leaving us with about an hour and half to walk around the area and find the place and take the tour.

We are in the vicinity of the museum and my sister spots a group of people, huddled in a doorway.

“Hey Shannon,” she says as she pulls my arm, “I think that’s it. Where all of those people are standing.”

“Are you sure? They look homeless, huddled in the doorway.”

She grabs my hand and walks with me over to the group. We walk along the block and stop in front of the tour guide, listening to his speech about early immigration and its impact on the area. My master plan was to stand next to the group, and when the guide took a breath, I was going to budge someone and ask them where we could buy tickets. You know, be polite because that is how my parents raised me.

We are standing for under a minute, when this nasty bitter tourist sneers at both my sister and me and says, “you need to buy tickets. We bought tickets. Go over there,” pointing to the end of the block, “to buy your tickets.” Over annunciating her words, driving home a point implying that we were trying to scam and get into the tour for free.

First of all, what kind of degenerate am I that I get kicks out of spending my Saturday stowawaying on tours of the LES’ tenements buildings. Secondly, do not fucking treat me like I am some child. Especially when you are a poorly dressed tourist from some hell-hole other than NYC. Taken aback, my sister and I begin to walk away however, my mania kicks in and I stop. I look over my shoulder directly at the woman and deliberately tell her, “You know, it doesn’t change the fact that you are ugly!”

And then skip to the ticket office.

Calling a woman ugly is worse than calling her fat. You call a girl fat and its easy to rationalize, employing the “hey, I have a nice face!” mentality. Or some other saving grace; mine being my boobs when my fat storage lasts longer than winter hibernation. Calling a woman ugly is a death sentence as there is nothing to combat being busted. No Jenny Craig, no gym memberships, no better clothes, nothing except an upper east side plastic surgeon. And not only did I destroy that bitch’s trip, but I also ruined her husband’s trip since he is going to have to listen to her whine.

Now, I could write here and say that I meant her personality being ugly or position it in some way for me not to be that bitch. Tilt the situation in my favor. But, I meant her looks. And the funny thing was, besides a craggly face and a 1980’s haircut, she wasn’t that busted. But I destroyed her trip. Serves her right though for trying to destroy my day.

So we find the storefront to buy tickets, and evidently there are 3 tours that you can choose from. We had no idea, and stood at the front of the long line pondering which tour would give us the best bang for our $10.

“Which one is about the Jews!?!” I ask all eager, with my eyes popping out of my head.

“All of them!”

We decide on a tour where the highlight is a reenactment of tenement life staring a 14 yr old girl. This is going to be awesome!

Of course we are late to the tour, and trying to blend in with my people, you know those of us that want to spend our Saturdays not observing the Sabbath but instead learn about Jews, my sis and I walk to the back of the tour, greeting everyone in our path with, “Shabbat Shalom!” You know, trying to earn those asshole points.

90% of the tour are people from the Midwest who have no idea about Jewish people. How do I know this for a fact and am not being stereotypical, you may ask? The fucking questions that made me question whether they taught about Eastern European immigration outside NYC. The tour guide asks where we are all from, and everyone is going around the room, stating the towns where they grew up.

“Kiev, Ukraine,” I respond in perfect American English.

My sister nudges me, “What the hell?! We aren’t from the Ukraine!!”

“Today we are.”

As everyone goes around the room saying where they are from, small town Minnesota included, we get to the couple who I gave a hearty, “Shabbat Shalom!” greeting.


They are from Israel. And knew I was an asshole before I sat down. Score!

But what I love about museums is it’s a place for me to share my useless knowledge that only a $120K education combined with limited friends growing up and an internet addiction could teach you. Of course, I am the asshole whose hands shoot up to clarify the lecturer’s explanation. And of course she was excited that an expert on investigative journalism and the tenements was in her midst…

But is got me thinking. What would prevent me from spouting wrong information? From making it a habit to go on tours and with an air of authority, tell people lies. Perpetuate bad information?

And then I thought about my barely completed app for Oxford and stop thinking.

Much like the way I end this post tonight.

One more week to go until apps are in…if anyone has an in at Oxford…because let’s be real, why the fuck am I doing this to myself? We know I am not getting in this round.


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