*** HUBERT’S *** – Old Times on 42nd Street

Hubert's Museum

I told my friend I was headed for Midtown

and needed cheering up. He suggested Hubert’s

Museum & Flea Circus. Ready to try anything,

I went. The Flea Circus wasn’t operating

but there were people on display:

 

the Human Pin Cushion, to remind us

that all pain is relative; the Jungle Creep,

an African-American pretending to be an African

psychotic, ranting at everything and reminding us

that humiliation can be a living.

 

Most poignant was the Woman with Elephant Skin,

whose condition—lacking sweat glands—

required expensive ointments, and so she offered

pictures for 50 cents showing, she said,

the parts of her we wanted to see.

 

Since she was already wearing a bathing suit,

and her body was dumpy—also, she was

probably my grandmother’s age—no one

in our band of watchers wanted to see

any more of her. And so I realized

 

that life, though a freak show, like Hubert’s,

also is not—we’re not compelled to parade our specialties

before the bored and troubled, or even

in front of the mirror. There are other ways

to pay for our ointments. Hubert’s

 

has become Peepland, where for quarters

you can stand in a booth, watch videos,

and do what you want with yourself. I can’t decide

if that’s an improvement, especially on those dark nights

we * need * some * cheering * up.

 

 

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3 comments

  1. tom cherwin · · Reply

    “There are other ways

    to pay for our ointments.”

    NEVER WERE TRUER WORDS EVER SPOKEN. THANKS FOR ONCE AGAIN KEEPING ME IN TOUCH WITH LIFE’S CONSOLING TRUTHS.

    1. Yes. We should never forget.

  2. stuart margulies · · Reply

    I loved being reminded of Hubert’s flea circus.

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