New York Breeds

My New York world has filled up with babies and talk of babies. This is what happens when you’re thirty one. Even New Yorkers figure out eventually–much too late, in my meddling opinion–that we as a species are here to make babies as well as reputations. I’m delighted by this development. Kids are fun, especially when they’re spawned by people I like.

So I’m now inducted into the art of trying to find meeting places that are good for children. This requires different social hunting skills than I’d previously developed. Halley’s eight-year-old son, Jackson, is big and smart and mobile, so we go iceskating at the Rockefeller Center. Harley’s 18-month-old twins, on the other hand, are mobile but not sensible. In the wasteland of the Upper West Side we take refuge in the kids’ section of Barnes and Noble. The very patient manager allows them to fling the teen novels onto the floor while we sit on the floor and chat. I rib Harley for accidentally picking this generation’s Jennifer to name her little girl: like all the mamas our age, I thought Maya was a great name, too.

Alex has a three-month-old charmer called Gus, and the good fortune to live in Brooklyn. Gus is a sophisticate who has already been to the Met, and has seen most of Manhattan from his sling. So we picked nearby Halcyon, still one of my favourite cafés. There are drapy sofas, unburnt coffees, popping disco lights and, usually, thumping music. People think babies like cheerful colors and teddy-bear friezes. They’re wrong. Babies are essentially young people, and therefore like house music and strobe lights in a semi-darkened room. Halcyon makes no concessions to sprogs. Halcyon is always full of sprogs and their hip, gorgeous parents. The kids lie there in zonked-out bliss, staring at the lights and lolling inanely to the beat. They forget their patriotic duty to be grabby little brats and they become as delightful as Ecuadorian bus babies.

I’m going to make my fortune with a clubbing daycare franchise.

7 thoughts on “New York Breeds”

  1. I’m sure you’re right about Halcyon; unfortunately, I can’t stand the place myself–the music makes me want to kill someone, even if there are no children around.

    I almost always meet my friend Rachel and her child at the playground that’s catacorner to Magnolia Bakery: cake for us, swings for Rosa. What could be better?

    When my California friends came to visit with their sprog in May, we took her to the Fall CafĂ© at Smith and Union. It’s always full of brats anyway, so I figured we’d blend. It turned out that our brat was exponentially more obnoxious than all the other kids present, however–more shrieky, more grabby, more mortifying. Exeunt parkward.

    I’ve heard that the Two Boots in the EV is extremely kid-friendy, and I know that Veselka is also surprisingly so.


  2. Same’s happening in Dublin — last time I was there, a few of us met up for lunch, and a full quarter of the attendees were under 4 years old. Turns out stripped-pine-and-noodles Wagamama is really kiddie-friendly — I never realised!


  3. I like to think of it as an irreverent combination of progeny and spawn. Rugrat is probably the closest American term, but it’s not quite disparaging enough.


  4. I usually refer to them as “sprouts” (with the singular pronoun “it,” up to about age nine), but I’ve admired the term “sprog” for some time.


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