You can’t touch this… Oh yes I can!

by Julie Frayn on October 3, 2013 in  Adventures in New York City

Adventures in New York, part eleven

Baby girl wanted to see whales. In the middle of New York City. And so off we went to the American Museum of Natural History. They were displaying what was purported to be the skeleton of the largest whale ever.

Not really. It was just the largest whale skeleton ever on display. In a museum. In New York City. Or something.

Thar be whales here!

Thar be whales here!

Either way, it was way cool and we had a whale of a good time. As mentioned in part three of this saga, baby girl and I are ‘streakers.’ Get in, get out, see as much as you can in the short time you’re there and move the hell on. When it came to whales, we took it slow. I’m talking slow like how you savour the richness of chocolate pate slow. The speed at which I decide to wade into the shallow end of the pool slow. Sllloooooowwwww….

Did you know that whale skulls are shaped like the human pelvis? Nature has a way of bringing the human form into the fold. Orchids look like vulvae and pollen pistils look like penises. So do sprigs of white asparagus. So pelvic whale heads should come as no surprise.

Did you know that killer whales are the Hannibal Lecters of the sea? They eat other whales. And sperm whales get their name from an oily, creamy substance that is excreted from their heads? Whalers (the murderous bastards of the sea) thought it was sperm. Clearly whalers aren’t too bright. And you’d think after five decades on this earth, winning academic awards in school, being not too dumb as an adult, I’d have known that dolphins are whales. I didn’t know that. Now I do. I feel smarter already.

In San Diego a hundred years ago, on a vacation with he who shall not be named, there was a shark exhibit. A shark’s jaw, teeth intact, gaping wide open to show just how easy it would be for it to swallow me whole, like a human jalapeno popper, taunted me near the exit door. ‘Don’t touch’ the sign said. ‘Alarms will sound’ it threatened.

P-shaw. Those teeth begged for my fingers to test their serrated edges. So I did it. I touched. And guess what?

Alarms sounded.

Did I learn my lesson? Of course not! Don’t tell me I can’t do something because I will do it anyway just to prove otherwise. I know, I’m a five-year-old at heart.

We didn’t see many ‘do not touch’ signs in the whale exhibit, and the few that were there, we pretended not to see at all. The security folk were too busy yelling at the visitors who so boldly ignored the ‘no photographs’ signs. How rude.

Baleen (weird teeth-like bristles inside a baleen whales mouth that filter water out and capture all the tiny morsels of krill and fish and the occasional unlucky bird – appy’s!) felt like the bristles of my old drafting brush. There was a life-sized replica of a whale’s heart that little kids could climb into. Sadly, no amount of sucking in my gut allowed me to get to kid-sized so I just poked my head in. Damn thing was the size of four La-Z-Boys all strapped together.

And then there was the secret box. A man encouraged us to come on over and take a whiff of what was in the box. Um, no thanks. But my brave baby girl gave it a shot. Smelled like perfume she said. So I took my chances. If you can’t trust your baby girl, who can you trust? Be damned if it didn’t smell a bit like perfume. He hadn’t revealed what the magic substance was, but we had already guessed. Whale shit. Petrified whale shit no less. Gotta love an interactive museum experience.

Baby girl playing the Big Piano

Baby girl playing the Big Piano

The day before, we had lucked out at FAO Schwartz. Wandered by the store by accident, and at just the very moment the Tin Soldier threw the doors open and invited everyone in. We were the first to enter (yes, we jumped the line, but really, we didn’t realize there was a line), and were greeted by all the store workers who lined each side of the carpet and applauded as if we were the royal queen and princess of Toyland. It was awesome.

Upstairs we found the piano. You know the one. The one Tom Hanks and Robert Loggia played chopsticks on with their feet. We were allowed to touch that, oh yes we were! So we danced and jumped and made bad music. Awesome I say!

Oh, Batman...

Oh, Batman...

Then there was Batman. Oh, Batman. Now there’s a guy I’d give it up for.

No, baby, leave the mask and cape on. The utility belt too.

Him we could touch, and touch I did… A lot. Might be the closest I get to the real thing! What? He’s not real. The hell he’s not. I touched him!

Stay tuned for the final installment, part twelve – New York Minutes


{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

joannevalentinesimson October 3, 2013 at 12:30 pm

Cool experiences!


Julie Frayn October 3, 2013 at 5:01 pm

Thanks Jo Anne. I’ve enjoyed dragging those six days out to five months and reliving the fun :)

Carolyn Frayn October 3, 2013 at 6:02 pm

Alarms sounded… LOL! Ya, touch away… and where’s the other photo of you touching Batman? :)

Loved this, and you ARE both totally the royal queen and princess of toyland! ♥


Julie Frayn October 4, 2013 at 7:38 am

I was going to put two more photos in FAO Schwartz, but not enough room in the toy store text! I think you mean the one where I’m fondling his, um, utility belt. Right? 😉

Carolyn Frayn October 4, 2013 at 9:32 am

Right, the utility belt… best shot ever. :)

Mike Schulenberg October 3, 2013 at 10:25 pm

I didn’t know that big piano was a real thing. Awesome :)


Julie Frayn October 4, 2013 at 7:39 am

It is! And it sounded and looked the same. But I bet in the movie their ‘music’ was canned. Then again, if I were choreographed I could do chopsticks on the fly too!

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