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by Albert Russo

Across the road, I had to stick out my pretty lil face every five minutes, on account that Bonka wanted to make sure I wasn’t being kidnapped or drugged.

“Don’t be afraid to use your whistle,” he repeated. I uh uh hemmed to appease him, but between you and me, I’d never do a thing so lewd-i-crass in front of people who might think I’d run away from the looney bin or a youth penitentiary.

I brought my uncle some warm papaya milkshake, yuck, it looked and smelled awful, like cat vomit. it’s supposed to be good for the digestion, like them anti-fart pills he takes after he’s overindulged at a delicatessen restaurant, stuffing himself with strawberries and fresh cream ... yum-yum, or with cheese cake, so smooth and buttery ... double yum-yum.

I wanted so much to see The Lion King , but it was sold out weeks in advance, so we went for My Fair Lady instead, which was staged for the first time half a century ago and which my uncle had already seen at least three times. Apparently that was the best choice available, my foot and three toes is what I say.

The neons of Times Square began to light up, playing their fantastic animated games a little before night fell. I thought I was in the middle of an electric rainbow gone berserk, spilling its colors all over me; my skin would turn now green, now orange, now blue, now violet and I felt like I had stardust on my eyelids. There’s no getting away, even in the worst blizzard, this city doesn’t look real and you’d expect King Kong to jump in any moment from a skyscraper and mix with the crowd. In Paris, such wild images never even brush my mind, it’s too orderly - ‘Cartesian’ is the filltisoftickle word.

If you didn’t know it already, I can’t stand opera, with all the bawling and yelling them tenors and sopranos do while they thrust their arms and their bazooms at each other like they’re having an epileptic fit, which is everything my uncle loooves. If I don’t put a stop to it, he might spend hours listening to the likes of Madama Fiddlesticks or to the Butcher of Seville on his old pickup and drive me bonkers - he still has no CD player, for crying out loud. I was afraid My Fair Lady would be in the same vein. My apprehensions grew the minute we got inside the theater. It had velvet-lined balconies that bulged like obese cows, chandeliers, weighing two tons each, gilt decorations that almost blinded me, the glare was so strong, all of this topped by a mammoth alcoholic - bucolic ha! - fresco painted over the ceiling. You don’t cross the Atlantic to find the same old stuff you can get in Europe a thousandfold, shucks. This is supposed to be the oldest and most historic theater on Broadway. I too will sound historic when I reach 90.

Excerpt 8 from ZAPINETTE GOES TO NEW YORK by Albert Russo