Trig Palin's extra chromosome
Friday, October 31 2008
In a few places on the greenhouse wall I'm still trying to correct errors in the height of the footings that have kept the tiers of blocks stacked above from being perfectly level. Today I was doing this to the blocks along the east wall by inserting a mortar seam of over an inch between the tiers. Mortar itself won't stand this deep unles its seated on a wide base, so I had to stuff small rocks into the goop and hope somehow to get the block above it into the precise location in space where I wanted it. It was slow frustrating work, and accounts for the fact that I only managed to install four blocks today.
This afternoon Gretchen and I drove to Uptown Kingston to look for Halloween costume ideas at Columbia Beauty Supply, the most comprehensive costume shop I've ever been in. On the way there, I'd decided to be Trig Palin's extra chromosome for Halloween, though there was nothing in the costume shop that seemed to convey the idea of chromosome. My first draft of a costume idea was to make my arms and legs look like the arms and legs of a typical X-chromsome (not the extra chromosome in Down Syndrome, which is simpler, but I was going for recognizability here). What I needed was some sort of striped unitard, but the only unitard in stock at Columbia was designed to be worn by a prepubescent girl.
Meanwhile Gretchen had decided to be a 1970s ho for Halloween. She found a cute little dark blue bob-cut wig and a pair of knee-high lace up high heel boots made of red vinyl.
Next we went to Herzog's hardware, where I bought four six foot long insulation sleeves suitable for inch-thick copper pipe and some copper-colored spray paint. The plan now was to strap the chromosome to my back and just be myself.
Back at the house, I wrapped masking tape around the sleeves and spray painted them copper. My idea had been to peel the tape off and reveal black lines, but the "chromosome arms" actually looked better with the white lines of the masking tape showing murkily through the copper paint. Next I took an external-frame backpack and positioned four boingy wires from its corners and threaded the now-coppery sleeves over them. It was an inconvenient rig to wear, particularly when there were doors to be gone through, but it had the advantage of being removable.
We'd been invited to tonight's Halloween party through Deborah, the woman Gretchen worked with this past spring teaching a photography course for local union members. The party was at a house in the Rondout neighborhood of Kingston. Like most Rondout houses, it was a beautiful old building, though inside it had received a thoroughly modern upgrade. It was as if the Queer Eye for the Straight Guy boys had swept through, putting in low-voltage stainless steel lighting and redoing fixtures and surfaces. Some had been redone with incredibly cheap materials positioned as high-end. For example, the cabinet doors had all been made out of fine-grain particleboard encased in polyurethane. They were beatiful despite the showcasing of a normally cheap looking texture. You had to admire that kind of decorative fearlessness. "Someday people peeling up their carpets will be delighted to find particleboard," I mused.
Of course, we weren't at the party long before people wanted to know what I was. "An extra chromosome," I said, hesitantly. I didn't want people's first impression of me to be me busting on those with Down Syndrome. But Gretchen soon revealed that I was indeed Trig Palin's extra chromosome, and everyone had a chuckle about it. I had to explain my outfit several times and only once did someone react in horror to my insensitivity to a devastating genetic condition. At that point I turned to Gretchen and said, "See? I knew this was going to get me in trouble."
I spent much of the party either talking to the host of the house about his many improvements to the structure and to an Italian guy named Paolo who works mostly as a stone mason. Before the end of the night, he'd invited Debora, Gretchen, and me to a brunch at his house on Sunday.
I should mention that in her 70s ho outfit, Gretchen was like an entirely different person and at the end of the evening I found it exciting to be going home with a cute stranger.
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