I made reference to how we spent too much time in the "skeleton store" in Soho, and yes, it was Evolution. Wow. We had to hurry past it on Thursday in a rush between publishing offices, but on Sunday morning when we had a little time, we made our way straight there. What a place! If there's any way in which I'm like a 10-year-old boy, it's this: I love bones and teeth and beetles and claws and turtle shells and fossils and other weird flotsam of nature, and this shop is the place to find it.
Incidentally, it did not escape my notice that the other customers in the store at the time were primarily ten-year-old boys, accompanied by parents, and they were seriously like kids in a candy shop, agonizing over the selection of claws and rattlesnake rattles and trilobite fossils! Jim and I were agonizing too. If we'd been up to spending lots of money that day, we'd likely have come away with an "alien skull" and several huge tropical beetles, horned and winged, in glass frames. As it was, we purchased:
-- Raccoon penis bones
-- a praying mantis
-- a selection of carnivore teeth, some reproduction, some real (shark, tiger, bear, alligator)
-- a reproduction smilodon saber (for home defense, ha ha)
-- earrings made out of dangling iridescent green beetle wings
-- a large grasshopper in a vial
-- banana-flavored lollipops with scorpions encased in them (delicious!)
(The teeth, by the way, have a certain relevance to the book I am currently writing.)
Yes, I am conflicted in my fascination for these things, because I do not support the hunting of animals to fill morbid collections. A part of me would love to have a blue morpho in a frame on the wall, but the much larger part of me would rather that blue morpho be flying around in the Amazon. I didn't buy anything that came off any living animal that is not abundant -- raccoons, for example, probably exterminated as pests? I don't know. There's really no justifying any of it. It's one thing in a natural history museum, another in a curiosity shop, but . . . I'm still fascinated. I've always loved natural history museums, and I love stories about naturalists collecting in the field. But . . . it's also so offputting. I'm sure this is the closest I'll ever get to a kudu:
The taxidermy is exceptional, and the size of this antelope is astonishing, seen close up like this. At the zoo, they're always so far away you have no idea how huge they are. And the oryx too:
Which I recently had the privilege of seeing alive in a nice-size herd in the very zoo that rescued them from extinction by means of a captive breeding program (Phoenix). The more I think about it now, the more I don't understand how my mind didn't revolt at the sight of these disembodied heads. It's so wrong. And yet, a part of me was merely in awe, like I was looking at a wall of African masks or something, and not murder victims. Ugh. I don't know. It's all so strange. Now I'm just feeling sick about my fascination.
A store where you don't have to feel slightly sick and guilty? The Scholastic Store!
I didn't know this existed. We stumbled upon it while wandering in Soho:
There's all kinds of Hogwarts shwag, plus a life-size school bus (the Magic Schoolbus? I don't know) you can sit in, and a cafe, and did I mention books? Books books books, and not all Scholastic books, I don't think.
Window-shopping from Soho to Greenwich Village yielded some displays:
And street scenes:
And for lunch we had one of the best pizzas we have ever had:
(John's Pizzeria on Bleeker St.)
We were whipped around by the wind at the Hudson River:
(Photo courtesy of the lovely Kate Schafer Testerman, with whom we went to see the Coraline musical stage adaptation that afternoon; it was highly strange and awesome.)
Oh, and we also bought a rat that day, a New York City rat for Professor. See:
A cute rat! We did see a really live subway rat scurrying across the platform. It was kind of cute too. Oh, and we saw a stranger subway creature than that. It emerged from a manhole cover and pulled someone down:
So you see? The rumors are true. There are alligators in the sewers of New York!
By the way, speaking of Professor, Jim came up with another name yesterday. Are you ready?
Doctor Zombie Di Bartolo. "Doc" for short. Cute, noh? If we were movie stars, perhaps! I still like Professor better, myself. But Zombie is a fine middle name . . . Professor Zombie, maybe? chortle chortle. It's fun, thinking up absurd names. Coming up with actual names = much more difficult!
I had an ultrasound yesterday, by the way, and Professor is doing great. My belly had been measuring slightly big, but in fact she's exactly right for her due date, which is August 1 and will be here so soon!! I mean, she might even be here sooner than that! Each day it is more of a reality that this baby will emerge into the world and, you know, start to cry. Right? Crazy! Oh, and we could see her hair in the ultrasound!!! A little fuzzy halo. So cute. I wonder what color it is.