Poopy pants

From Handy Manny and Crocs to Shuffles and Linus

¿<i>Dónde está mi pinche </i>bounce house?

¿Dónde está mi pinche bounce house?

On Saturday night, I attend a 2-year-old’s birthday party.

Does everyone get a bounce house at bdays these days? This party has one: in the backyard, a handful of pre-schoolers going apeshit inside—and one kid sporting a Peyton Manning jersey. Those not in the house run laps from the backyard into the living room, then to the garage and back to the backyard, string of balloons in tow. There’s a 2-4 kid-adult ratio, but I feel outnumbered.

The birthday boy, my cousin, is in one of those red Fisher Price cars, Smart cars for Sesame Street. Dads document the event with Errol Morris-like determination. Every so often, I get a whiff of poopy pants.

I have no clue about kids.

I do learn from the party that my cousin’s favorite toy is Handy Manny. Later, I YouTube and find out that Manny’s a popular animated children’s TV show about a bilingual handyman who also talks to his crescent wrench and is known for being very helpful.

My co-worker chimes in: “Handy Manny is the shit. I watch tons of Handy Manny.” He has a 4-year-old.

The gift mountain is evidence that my cousin, only two years in, is very popular. In addition to a Manny doll, he also gets a fake workbench, lots of orange clothes, including a pair of Crocs, and some puzzles that for the moment go neglected.

How strange, innocence, they say, and they’re right: There’s guilt in knowing that’s both calming and a burden.

Consider Sunday, after the storm passes, around 5 p.m., when I leave my apartment for the streets of Midtown, which streets always are empty just after a downpour.

At first, the only other people I pass on the streets are Linus, a longstanding Midtown homeless man who always has a different blanket, and Shuffles, a poor guy who can barely walk, oversized Nikes strapped onto his no doubt sore and calloused feet. A few years ago, local restaurateurs tossed a bucket of water on Shuffles.

I see him and Linus wish Midtown had a Handy Manny, if anything because he might know what to do to help them out. Or build them a single-room-occupancy hotel, because Hotel Berry on L and Eighth streets will be shuttered this year.

About a half-hour into the walk, the streets grow busier. On 15th Street, a saxophonist runs scales—ba-da-da-duh-da-da-duh-ba—while staying out of the mist. Normally, I find street music pleasant, but this guy’s descending runs, which drop octaves and tumble lower and lower, are disturbing. Panicked. Like the final scene of Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation: Gene Hackman alone in his torn up apartment, a total nut, paranoid, unsettled, running scales on his sax, hopeless.

The restaurants and bars are empty, sans a few diners, and the streets remain wet and vacant. It’s a crappy time now. Where’s our bounce house?