Friday, July 15, 2016

Aunt Lily's Rule

Aunt Lily and Aunt Vera
I'm 10, I walk into my 83rd Street apartment on a miserably hot afternoon. It's dark, the lights are out to pretend it's cool, and there's my mother's Aunt Lily sitting in her underwear at the kitchen table drinking coffee like she's dressed for tea. Nothing on, but a giant white bra and big fat pink panties. I circle the table, my mother's sisters, Joan and Barbara are there but they have clothes on.

I say hi to everybody, and give Mom the eye and a head tilt to join me in the next room.

"Mom, what's with Aunt Lily?"
"She's hot."
"No, she's nude."
"No she's not silly. She has her underwear on."

I walked away spinning circles on the side of my head with one finger.
Aunt Barbara, Aunt Joan and Mom

A week later, Mom throws a Tupperware Party on a record heat day for early June. There are strange faces on my couch and a few of Mom's friends. I was drenched with sweat from playing ball down Carl Schurz Park. I tore my clothes off, threw them in a pile, kicked them under my bed, and put on a fresh pair of Fruit of the Loom briefs and went to the refrigerator. The sweat on my back and belly returned, but I sighed when I felt the chilled air leaving the fridge as I pulled out the ice water. I took the old Mott's apple juice bottle to the kitchen table and plopped on a chair to catch a tiny backyard breeze coming in from the living room window. Where I sat gave the ladies on the couch a clear view of me and me of them.  My pot belly was pooling sweat. They stopped their gabbing. One had her mouth wide open. Mom facing them turned around, saw me, and came into the kitchen.

"What the hell are doing?"
"Drinking, cooling off."
"Why are you in your underwear?"
"I'm hot."
83rd Street backyard

She grabbed me by the neck and directed us towards my bedroom.  I didn't bother arguing. What was the point? Aunt Lily had her own set of rules.

If you come to City Boy ~ my solo show @ Cornelia Street Cafe @ Thursday @ July 21st @ 6pm, you'll understand why I was lucky growing up in the old Yorkville neighborhood with my favorite stoops, stops and crazy cuckoo nuts. My old photos, the people in them and the scenes they present, are tied to the street life double feature in my head where I watch old Yorkville movies from my seat in the first row of RKO 86th Street's mezzanine.

City Boy ~ built into me over a lifetime, stories flew into my ears straight to my memory palace.
These events shook the area
1880 ~ Second & Third Ave Els reach Yorkville\Upper East Side
1918 ~ IRT comes to Yorkville
1955 ~ demolition of the Third Ave El,
2016 ~ Second Avenue Subway

Cornelia Street Cafe
Thurs, July 21 @ 6pm.
$10 admission includes a free drink

my first solo play
Thursday, July 21 at 6 PM - 7:45 PM
29 Cornelia St, New York, New York 10014

Thomas Pryor's "City Boy" is a love letter to street life in the 1960s working class Manhattan neighborhood, Yorkville. Devil Dogs were a nickel, Spaldeens flew, and the capture game, Ringalario, let boys put their arms around girls for the first time. Nuns slugged you for humming baseball’s beer jingles in class. And, like other fathers, Tommy’s took him to saloons, all day, and no one thought it was strange. In this funny and bittersweet portrait of family and life, Pryor echoes TV’s “The Wonder Years” - just add in taverns, subways and Checker cabs.


If you like my work check out my memoir, "I Hate the Dallas Cowboys - tales of a scrappy New York boyhood." Available at Logos Book Store or online at Amazon or Barnes & Noble. The book has 119 Amazon five star reviews out of 119 total reviews posted. We're pitching a perfect game. My old world echoes TV's "The Wonder Years" ~ just add taverns, subways and Checker cabs.

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