Friday, February 4, 2011

Tuesday Train Day - Marionettes

This Tuesday we took the train to the Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre in Central Park. We set a personal record - we took 6 trains! The R to the D to the C to 81st Street, and then the B to the D to the R to get home. The D train runs over the Manhattan Bridge and on the way home there was hardly anyone in our car. I gave you rice and beans for lunch and let you stand on the seat to look out the window.

We've had extreme weather on every Tuesday Train Day, and this Tuesday was no different - it was snowing again. The Marionette Theatre has been in Central Park since 1877, and looked quaint and cozy under all that snow. Walking through the park, it felt like we had travelled back in time through some kind of lonely nordic forest.

We saw the 10:30 showing of The Secret History of the Swedish Cottage. It's the story of how the cottage came to America, with the help of sea creatures and gnomes. Typically, the theatre puts on traditional fairy tales, like Cinderella and Jack and the Beanstalk, but this show was a perfect introduction for us first-time cottage goers. Apart from a few other families, the audience consisted of a theatre class of 5-year-olds, who asked fabulous questions during the Q&A after the show. You were the youngest kid there. When they turned off the lights and announced that there was no eating or drinking in the theatre I took away your O's and you started to wail. Too late, I tried to give them back to you, after all, it was really dark and who would see? But you were pissed. We shuffled out of the theatre just as the show was starting.

It took you a while to calm down, and when we went back in the Swedish Cottage was in a boat, making its way across the Atlantic.

There was a storm and the Swedish Cottage sunk to the bottom of the sea, where it was met by a hostile octopus and an amorous whale. You started to cry again. You were afraid of the octopus. I whispered in your ear, offering you O's, but you were having none of it. One of the theatre teachers turned around and and put her hand on your knee and asked you questions like, "are you afraid of the pretend octopus? Or the pretend whale?" Inexplicably, this calmed you down. A few scenes later a steam engine showed up, and you were all smiles.

The show was really great. It was funny and wildly creative. It actually made me tear up, just knowing that people are doing this, and have been doing this in this very building for the last 130 years, despite real world obstacles that are just as intimidating as giant octopuses and the wide and stormy Atlantic. I thought about why I take you places like this, why I like to take you on the train. It's because you're good company. And it's because I want you to know that the world is big. It is big and full of some terrific surprises. There's so much stuff and so many people you'd never imagine. There are so many things to do. And in this city, nothing is too far away, and it's never hard to get there. Nothing is inaccessible. You can always take the train.

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