This is the title of my all time favorite Dr. Seuss book. As a kid, I had an extensive collection of the good Doctor’s works that were a raggedy spined collection of hand me downs someone gave my parents for me. Most things I had as a little kid were hand me downs, because my parents were young and didn’t have much money at the time. But I didn’t care, I loved Dr. Seuss books. Green Eggs and Ham, The Cat in the Hat, Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now! But Mulberry Street was by far my favorite. If you are not familiar with the story, a young boy on his way home imagines all these incredible sights and sounds that he sees on Mulberry Street, and is going to tell his dad all about it when he gets home. Of course, it’s completely his imagination, and at the very end when he gets home, he tells his dad nothing really happened at all. That’s the truth, but fantasy trumped reality. The story showed the power of youthful imagination and how it eventually becomes repressed by the societal expectations of adulthood. I’ve always had a vivid imagination, and while I’ve grown up slightly, I’m still a kid at heart. I hadn’t thought of the book in years until the other night I was reminded of it.
It started on my day off. I went to Manhattan to go shopping for some pants. I was looking for a new pair of jeans, maybe some good looking pants, and I was on Broadway in SoHo, with all the tourists and shoppers. I was having a difficult time because the way fashion trends affect everyone throughout the industry. Consider this: In the ’90s, kids started wearing baggy pants. I remember it got to the point where pants were so super baggy they became comically huge. It was like they were designed to fit the world’s fattest man and they looked like you could fit a couple of teenagers inside them.
Now it’s all flopped around to the skinny jeans trend. They are really narrow at the leg opening and really only the skinniest of guys should be wearing them, if they should be at all. There was a Bud Light commercial from the past year or so where a female bartender makes fun of a patron for wearing what she calls his “Girlfriend’s jeans” which pretty much sums it up for me. Sure, wear something that fits but I think it’s gotten to the point where it looks kind of gay. Not gay in a homosexual way, but gay in a stupid and okay, effeminate way. I see it everywhere, hipsters, skaters, teenagers, and really skinny dudes. Now I’m not a fat guy, but I’m definitely not rail thin either. I’ve always been stocky and with my thick legs I feel stupid wearing these jeans and pants that are cut like this. That is if I can put them on in the first place.
So I’m trying to find something that seems normal, but normal is skinnier than it used to be and skinny is just out of the question. Finding something that actually feels comfortable means having to go so large on the waist that the pants are falling off my ass. Oh wait, that’s cool, I forgot.
So I went to a bunch of stores and eventually found a decent pair, but the effort meant a lot more time spent shopping than I wanted to. I had made it back to around Canal street and I went to Chinatown for some cheap noodles. After getting some food and a little energy back, I passed a street vendor on Mulberry Street with cheap fruits and vegetables and I picked up a Dragonfruit, which I’ve only recently tried. It’s a bit larger than an apple, kind of looks like a dragon head, and when you slice it the inside looks similar to a kiwi. The first one I had tried was white and speckled with black seeds, but these were advertised as red dragon fruit. They were slightly more expensive but well worth it. Beet red on the inside, succulent and juicy, it was amazing.
Around this time the sun was setting and across Canal street in Little Italy, there were food booths and vendors set up for the festival of San Gennaro. What got my attention was the marching band playing and entering Mulberry Street, led by police clearing the way and a bust of San Gennaro.
I made my way across the street to watch the procession make its entrance and stood nearby as everyone took pictures and listened to the band playing Italian folk songs. The booths sold cannolis, zeppoles, meatballs, eggplant parmesan, and pistachio ice cream. I was transported into a Godfather movie as I listened to the music and stood in one of New York’s classic Italian neighborhoods. Any minute I expected Robert DeNiro to appear from the crowd as a young Vito Corleone and bust a cap in the local Don’s ass but on this evening the NYPD did a good job a crowd control. I followed along with everyone in the crowd, found a free sample of some espresso and made my way out the other side to the subway, past more buildings with signs in Chinese.
And to think that I saw it on Mulberry Street.
For the record, Theodor Geisel was born in Springfield, Massachusetts, and the Mulberry Street he refers to in his first book published as Dr. Seuss is from there, but Mulberry Street in Manhattan is a fun place to visit for people of all imaginations.
One last thing I learned about his book, it inspired a few lines out of this song by CCR.