New York Stories: Michael Showalter

<p>The comedian's middle-school memories of booze, cigarettes and wingtips.</p>

The comedian's middle-school memories of booze, cigarettes and wingtips.

Photograph: Zak Orth

When I was in seventh and eighth grade, we would take the bus into the city and hang out in these stores all day, kind of pretending to be New Yorkers. We'd go to Canal Jeans, which is still there, a place called Antique Boutique and then another place called Unique Boutique, all near Broadway and Houston. That was the New York City of my youth, during the early '80s, and I sort of romanticized it. It was like we were chasing this fantasy of being like those kids in the movie Fame.

And so we came into the city and wore the clothes we wished we could wear at home, which were, you know, these pointy wingtips and Art Garfunkel vests and belt buckles. And then we'd smoke shitty cigarettes and drink beer. We were, like, 13 years old and we would buy beer, without a problem, at the delis one bottle at a time and be little Basketball Diaries kids in our own minds. Then we would go over to Washington Square Park and get in on the drum circle or whatever. It was literally just for one afternoon, when we'd pretend that this was our life. And it was great.

Then, as it got dark, we would take the subway over to the Port Authority and take the bus home. We'd go back to our ho-hum lives, take our wingtips and our Art Garfunkel vests off and put our L.L.Bean sweaters back on.—As told to Tim Lowery 

See Michael Showalter read from his new book, Mr. Funny Pants, as well as a performance by Neko Case, at Barnes & Noble Union Square on Thu 24. The comedian also reads Feb 27 at The Bell House and Mar 1 at BookCourt.

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