Something fucking awesome happened in Cincinnati on July's Final Friday. A dude with a card table, some DJ stuff and a microphone (two turntables and a microphone, even) incited a random dance party with over 100 people around 1212 Main Street in Over-the-Rhine.
Music was pumping, and people flocked to it. I have never witnessed such an amassing of complete strangers and intimate friends. Plaid-clad hipsters were cutting loose with older, baggy-shirted locals. Drunk people who had tumbled out of bars were sweating out all the alcohol they had just paid for to Kool and the Gang. Everyone was incredibly, stupidly happy.
There was no reason for it. No social networking was involved. Nobody knew about it through a text or because they were Tweeted at or received a Facebook invite. It wasn’t sponsored by Final Friday, and it wasn’t even planned. DJ Alcatone, the awesome instigator, shrugged his shoulders when I asked him (over the Funk blaring out from two speakers), why he was playing music on a street corner in OTR. He said he just was. And people were just dancing.
There were three guys dancing in the middle of the damn street, stopping cars to gyrate in front of them. One was dancing intensely, and then he paused and directed traffic around other dancers. An SUV pulled up and four dudes sat on the edge of the car windows, took their shirts off, and held their arms in the air.
An entire two-block span of Main Street was filled with sweaty, writhing people. DJ Alcatone started a soul train in the middle of the crowd. There was a break-dancing competition, and seriously, who knew old people could get down like that? One guy did that thing where he contorted his whole body in the air, resting solely on his hand on the ground. (Yoga has not prepared me to attempt this.)
Cell phones crowded in the air, everyone snapping pictures of the “something” that was happening right in front of them. Cops drove by and didn’t stop. The opposite side of the street was crowded with overflow dancers. A girl with an “I’m the bachelorette!” sash across her torso sashayed in front of cars, darting back and forth between the two sides. There was even a man with a broken leg in a wheelchair. Seriously. He was spinning on his wheels, grooving to the music.
It was like someone had pressed pause on every social, racial and economic stricture and preconception, and hit “play” for uninhibited, good-spirited, uplifting interaction. It was so simple, and no one stopped to think about it. No one stopped to consider “what it meant,” or why it was happening, or how it could be better. Honestly, it couldn’t have been better.
The police were called about two hours in, and were actually smiling when they told everyone the party had to end. That was probably the best time to have the party end — before everyone remembered themselves, the faces we all put on for the everyday world, the way we conduct ourselves around people we want to impress. No one was trying to impress anyone. Even the bad dancers (there were a few) were applauded. It was the fact that everyone involved stepped outside of themselves, without any catalyst or promise of reward, and for two hours, we just were.
I like to think of myself as a pretty normal person, perfectly capable of interacting with a variety of other humans. I watch bad television and sometimes shop at Wal-Mart, yet I enjoy ethnic food and DIY projects. MFin' renaissance woman. But sometimes, despite a breadth of interests and activities, I cannot deal with people. Enter the Cincinnati Zoo.
This Sunday, instead of burying my head under a pillow until 1 p.m., the boyfriend and I decided to pay a visit to the yearly Zoo Babies attraction. The weather was sunny and warm, and neither of us were hungover - a perfect and rare opportunity to look at little animals.
Nearly anyone can enjoy a trip to the zoo, but I know very well that this type of attraction is particularly appealing to little humans - children. And sometimes children don't know how to walk yet or their biological walking timers shut off and they need assistance, i.e. strollers. I know they're necessary, but some of these devices are more comparable to a slightly smaller Prius. Of course, you have to let kids cut in front of your or you're a total bitch. But, god damnit, I paid $14 to be here and I want to see the manatees, too.
So what are you supposed to do? Wait patiently for the throng of toddlers to peep new baby giraffe, Zuri and then try your damnedest to see past their gooey fingerprints smudging the glass window once it's your turn.
Strollers suck (though they're much more obtrusive at packed festivals - watch out for those bad boys this weekend at The Taste!), but Sunday I found a worse alternative that I thought only existed as a joke in the '90s - baby leashes. I witnessed countless seemingly behaved youngsters strapped in a fuzzy, cuddly, stuffed-animal themed LEASH. How lazy of a parent do you have to be to think the best way to prevent your kid from jumping into the polar bear cave is to attach them to a harness?
However, it's another issue if you're hypoglycemic and hyperactive. A hyper-hypo.
You better believe I gave a big old side-eye to each of these parents. For the love of god, go back to the tricked out, view-obstructing, toe-crushing stroller! Anything is better than a child leash.
Thankfully, dedicated individuals have devoted their time to stop this injustice.
Of course, there's another group of humans that left me mimicking the gorillas:
The I-don't-give-a-fuck crew.
So we're in the Jungle Trails, a peaceful, shaded area with plenty of space and lots of cool creatures. I'm just trying to get a good view of a zebra when I hear a stern, "Excuse me. There is no smoking anywhere in the zoo." Now, this dude was kind of dickish, gettin' up in somebody's bidness while wiping his kid from head to toe with sanitizer. But, holy shit, some bitch was actually smoking a cig by the animals! She quickly extinguished her smoke (possibly into the animal sanctuary - I was trying not to stare) with a raspy "Sah-ree." With that, it was time to escape to the air-conditioned nocturnal animal space.
It was pretty dark and kind of hard to see these critters (hello, nocturnal!) and one particularly grimy child next to me began smacking the window next to me.
"Wake up! Where is it?" he shouted, as a little partner in crime joined him in glass-banging. Half-concerned for the adorable lemur on the other side, half-worried someone might mistake these shit heads as my own offspring, I used my best waitress voice and said, "Hey guys, we shouldn't tap on the glass, OK?" and pointed to the dozens of signs suggesting the same. They continued.
We made our way back outside, to see my most anticipated animals, the bonobos. These apes share 98.7% of DNA with humans and are completely capable of learning many people things, like understanding English and using American Sign Language. (Side note: I'm half-way through Water for Elephants author's latest novel Ape House, in which bonobos play a huge role. It's a great read.) They're sweet.
Once again, I found myself behind a bunch of kids who probably can't pronounce bonobo and probably won't remember seeing them, but I kept my patient pants on. Until grimy kid #1 resurfaced…on the other side of a rope barrier, pounding on the gate. Sure enough, the brat belonged to cig lady who, at this point was enjoying (her fifth?) draft beer.
"C'mon, stop it. You're not supposed to be there," she yawned.
"I wanna see if he'll attack me! I wanna see if he'll attack me!"
This continued for a few minutes. I felt my mouth drop and I turned around to see I wasn't the only one in awe. Anyone who makes me feel like I'd be a competent mother has some serious issues. Maybe child leashes are appropriate in certain situations.
I guess I didn't really learn how to better cope with people, but I did discover this: animals are way cooler than humans, and their babies are cuter.
Deciding which route to take in disciplining children is surely a tough decision. The closest thing I have to spawn is a gang of pets, and they don't know "sit" from "shut the hell up," so I guess training a little human would be even harder.
Today, it seems two extreme concepts of discipline stand out (usually while I'm shopping at a seedy Kroger location): the pulling-the-kid-by-the-arm-while-yelling-at-and-occasionally-spanking-them-onlooking-shoppers-be-damned or the children-deserve-freedom-and-isn't-he-adorable-shit-momma-needs-a-break. Surely, there's a happy medium between publicly berating your 4-year-old and falling into a dopey gaze as you let the kid scale shelves in aisle 6B. Thankfully, that's where Potty Mouth Soap comes in!
Made locally in Maineville, Ohio, creators of Potty Mouth Soap promise effective use of their product will help "nip the lip." The press release, sent to myself at CityBeat's office, is quite well-written, featuring enough alliteration to make Carrie Bradshaw squeal:
"Sick of the sass? Tired of the talking back?…Potty Mouth Soap is an all-natural, safe way to help discipline your kids. What's more, it's fun and effective." Fun? Just tell that to Ralphie.
It was...soap POISONING!
Not sure if it's effective, but hilariously (?) enough, there is a link to this video on Potty Mouth Soap's homepage:
The release continues:
"It's made with all-natural, non-toxic ingredients including coconut oil, palm oil and purified water. So when your little darling dares to sass you can feel completely safe when placing Potty Mouth Soap at the edge of their mouth. And that yucky taste will help nip the lip that you're so fed up with."
I know what you're thinking. "My kids are the worst when we're in public, but how can I keep a bar of soap in my purse?" Potty Mouth Soap gotchu.
Enter Potty Mouth Spray. This portable "Cinnamint" mouth spray if perfect for Krogering. The website warns, "Don't leave home without it!"
On the "How to Use Potty Mouth Soap" tab are four YouTube videos above the text that's printed on the press release. One would think these would be how-to videos on soaping your kids, or examples of children who need to be soaped. The videos include one of a baby "biting" (but really placing her toothless mouth upon) a dog, the infamous "David After the Dentist" and "Charlie Bit Me."
Now in Auto-Tune form
Now, it kind of seems like the soap method might just teach kids to shove gross things in people's mouths when they say something they don't like, but I'm no parent. I guess I've come across some 9-year-olds who might deserve to get soaped, but a freaking baby? They don't even know how to make words yet! And seriously, no person should ever be accountable for what they say when high, after the dentist or otherwise.
"Gotta teach 'em young," you say? "This is probably better than the belt method." Well, bars and spray are $3-$5 a pop and include a sticker reward chart for positive behavior.
No gold star for you!