On the hunt for Heath

The Brooklyn Paper
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Smartmom loved Heath Ledger in “Brokeback Mountain.” In fact, the scene in the tent with Jake really got her juices going. Literally. A little rough, a little raw, it was one of the best movie sex scenes in recent memory.

Truth be told, Smartmom got all hot and squirmy sitting next to Hepcat in the Pavilion not long ago. Then, the other day, Smartmom read a short on-line piece about her man Heath.

“My life right now is, I wouldn’t say reduced to food, but my duties in life are that I wake up, cook breakfast, clean the dishes, prepare lunch, clean those dishes, go to the market, get fresh produce, cook dinner, clean those dishes and then sleep if I can. And I love it. I actually adore it,” Ledger told the Hollywood Star.

It’s no secret that Smartmom thinks — hell, even dumb moms, think it, too — that there is nothing sexier than a man who takes good care of his children, SHOPS FOR GROCERIES and cooks. Clearly, Heath is loving his life as baby Matilda’s dad and Michelle’s "husband" in Boerum Hill.

Later, Smartmom shared her view of Heath with Dumb Editor (who also liked “Brokeback Mountain,” although he did not find the tent scene as pleasing as Smartmom). “Why don’t you go down to BoCoCa — or whatever the brokers are calling that neighborhood nowadays — and find Heath? Then you can see for yourself.”

Smartmom is never thrilled when she has to leave her upholstered divan to do some real reporting. But if it meant a chance to see her man Heath, Smartmom was game. She changed into Heath-stalking gear — cowboy boots, blue jeans, jean jacket and dark glasses — and boarded a Bergen Street-bound F-train.

When Smartmom arrived in the land of Heath and Michelle, she walked up Smith Street and peeked into the Cafe Kai, which had an ultra welcoming sign on the door that said, “We’ve Been Waiting for You.” Despite a full menu of organic tea, there was no H or M. Smartmom spotted a seriously cool woman’s clothing store called Dear Fieldbinder. Hoping to see Michelle, with Matilda in the Bjorn, shopping with Daddy Heath, Smartmom walked into the high-end dress shop.

Smartmom spotted a black t-shirt that would look perfect underneath the jacket she’s wearing to her 30th high school reunion in a few weeks. She plunked down $32 for garment — but this wasn’t shopping, this was recon! Smartmom asked the saleswoman, Sadie Stein, if she’d ever seen Heath or Michelle.

A huge, mischievous smile crossed Stein’s face and her eyes shone through her oversized tortoise-shell glasses.

“I was driving down Smith Street with friends and saw a really goofy looking jogger wearing bright red sweat pants, an Africa t-shirt, a really weird headband, and big sunglasses, flailing his arms about like this.”

She demonstrated what looked like a cross between modern dance and kick-boxing.

“He looked so funny, we had to stop the car. And then my friend figured out that it was Heath Ledger!”

Stein was an unapologetic treasure trove of information about Heath and Michelle. “I also saw the two of them at an afternoon screening of ‘Grizzly Man’ at the Cobble Hill Cinema. I was the only one in the movie theater. They came in after the opening credits and left before the closing credits. Stein thought that was strange. “I mean, it was just the three of us.”

That sounded kinda kinky to Smartmom. (Dumb Editor note: Down, girl.)

Next, Smartmom checked out the various children’s boutiques on Smith Street. Smartmom was almost certain that she’d see them at Area in BoCoCa, shopping for yoga pants, a Buddha-patterned diaper cover, or a $95, hand-knit hoodie for Matilda.

“They’ve been here a lot,” one salesgirl said helpfully.

But they’re not here now, are they, thought Smartmom.

Smartmom headed to Hoyt Street, where, she’d heard, the dashing couple lived. Hoyt is a step back in time to pre-gentrified Brooklyn. The impressive St. Agnes Roman Catholic Church looms over the small-scale neighborhood of three-story brownstones and bodegas and acres of red brick apartment buildings that make up the Gowanus Houses.

Smartmom ran into a small woman walking a fashionable small dog and popped the question. The woman’s eyes moved discreetly towards the building where Heath and Michelle supposedly live.

“But we’ve never seen them,” Dog Lady said. “I think they must have a house somewhere else. They don’t live there.”

Still, Smartmom’s opinion of Healthmichelle was rising to new heights. They are so cool to see the beauty in this very mixed Brooklyn landscape, she thought.

Smartmom walked back to Smith, hoping to see Heath carrying a big bag of groceries. Instead, she saw a Brooklyn house with an American flag in the garden, a barking dog and a memorial sign that said, “John Padillo Way, Battalion One 9/11/01.”

This was a real as Brooklyn gets,

Back on Smith Street, Smartmom swooped into Andie Woo, a dreamy lingerie shop, where she chatted up one of the owners while buying a black bra for the dress she’s wearing to the Baltimore wedding next month (again, recon, not shopping).

“Michelle has been in here LOTS,” said Patti, one of the owners. “She’s really down-to-earth and nice. She’s bought stuff for her mother!”

Smartmom was impressed that Michelle bought lingerie for her mom. While paying for her $65 bra, Smartmom listened to Patti’s thoughts on Heath.

“I really respect the fact that he choose to move here, a real place with real people,” she said. And then, almost as an afterthought, she added that she sees the two of them a lot at Smith and Vine, a tasteful boutique wine shop across the street.

“What do you expect? He’s an Aussie,” said a woman who was shopping for thong underwear.

Heathless, Smartmom popped into Smith and Vine, lugging three shopping bags with her Smith Street booty, half expecting to see them loading up on fine vintage booze.

So it wouldn’t be a total loss, Smartmom did spend $18 on a bottle of sake (recon!). Depleted and hungry, she made her last stop at a real neighborhood hangout, The Food Company — surely a place that Heath and Matilda would feel right at home. Futiley scanning the casual restaurant for Matilda’s stroller, Smartmom ordered a superb turkey club with bacon, arugala, and cranberries.

Even though she hadn’t seen them sipping lattes while walking down the street with Matilda in the sling, Smartmom felt like she knew them both a little better.

They own a derelict building across the street from a housing project and live on a block with blue-and-white plastic Virgin Mary statues in the front gardens. Heath even flails his hands about when he jogs.

Smartmom paid for her lunch — $10.95 plus tax and tip — and suddenly realized that she had spent an awful lot of cash looking for Heath. That Dumb Editor. She could just kill him for making her spend $128 in the kind of stores where Heath and Michelle shop.

Smartmom noticed a man posing for a picture on the steps of the Bergen Street F-train stop. For a moment she wondered if maybe, just maybe, it was Heath being photographed by Annie Lebowitz for Vanity Fair. But no go.

The man looked nothing like Smartmom’s “bi-sexual,” Aussie hunk. And the photographer, a short, stocky woman was no match for lanky Annie Lebowitz.

The dark-haired man was wearing a Gap sweatshirt. “Do you need to get into the subway?” he said. And that’s when Smartmom realized who he was.

It was Jonathan Lethem, the brilliant author of “Motherless Brooklyn” and “Fortress of Solitude” — a true giant in a Brooklyn literary community that includes Paula Fox, Lisa Selin Davis, Michael Drinkard, Jill Eisenstadt, Rachel Vigier, Yona Zeldis McDonough, Paola Corso, Elizabeth Royte, Paul Auster, Elissa Schappell, Siri Hustvedt and, as Dumb Editor always says, the greatest author of all time, Jonathan Safran Foer.

Lethem is actually one of Smartmom’s heroes. But alas, he is not Heath. “Yes, I need to get into the subway,’ she said, brushing past her hero. And the photographer and the author moved away, while Smartmom descended the stairs.

Louise Crawford, a Park Slope mom, also operates “Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn.”
Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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