The Museum of Natural History

The American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan a little before 6 on a Friday evening, just as the last day visitors are straggling out. Sleeping bags slung over our shoulders, we head for the Hall of Ocean Life, the cavernous room with the big blue whale suspended from the ceiling. “A bunch of thrill-seeking girls,” as Ike puts it, have already unfurled their bedrolls before the almost life-size squid and whale diorama—a depiction of undersea combat legendarily scary to generations of schoolchildren. We stake our claim to cots in front of walruses basking on the ice. Trouble is, while we lie beached on our cots, testing out our new sleep- ing arrangements, people keep walking by and saying “Look at the walruses!” so often I begin to think they’re talking about us. Well, me, actually. This is what comes of being a 46-year-old woman wearing what amounts to sleepwear in public.

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