On Saturday we went to New York City, to celebrate the older boy’s 18th birthday. It was on-again, off-again and I wasn’t sure the trip was actually going to happen until Friday evening. Too much chaos. There’s no planning anymore… gone are the days of the planning.
At the beginning of the week “they” were saying it would be rainy and 55 on Saturday, which didn’t sound very good. But it turned out to be perfection. It was sunny and warm: the first gorgeous day of the year. Stuckes, the ancient god of travel, was cutting us a break.
The older boy’s girlfriend went with us, and we left our car at a Park ‘n’ Ride in beautiful Secaucus, NJ. As soon as we got there a bus pulled up, and we were in a frenzy trying to buy tickets. We miscounted, due to the rush, and when it got to me… we were out of tickets.
The driver sighed with annoyance, but told me to go pay and he’d wait for me. And as soon as I stepped off the bus he closed the door and drove off. WTF??
Well, I guess I’ll be taking the next bus, I thought. So I leisurely bought myself a ticket, and went back outside. And the bus was stopped, about a football field away. The driver stepped off and yelled, “You coming, or not?!” And I had to jog a great distance, for reasons unknown. What was with this guy? I certainly hope he was enjoying himself.
Toney informed me the birthday boy wanted to have lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe. “What?!” I whisper-shouted. “It’s like Friday’s with guitars. In fact, I think Friday’s has guitars.”
“Well, that’s where he wants to go,” she said, drawing the negotiations to a close.
They told us it would be an hour wait, which made me grind my molars for a couple of seconds. But whatever. I’ve gotten pretty good at rolling with it. Much better than I was ten years ago. The place was pandemonium, and we found a semi-quiet spot to hole up for sixty minutes.
The kids left and wandered around Times Square for a while. And Toney and I chatted with a Hard Rock employee, who was very friendly. She lives in Queens, ya know, and commutes every day.
The meal was fine, but WAAAAY over-priced. I think a little poop came out when I saw the check. Sweet sainted mother of Harold Hecuba! But again… just roll with it.
Something kinda funny happened there, though. Toney told our cool-cat waiter that the boy was having a birthday, and he said, “Great! We’ll hook him up with a free dessert later. We don’t do all that embarrassing stuff here. It’ll be cool.”
And after lunch was finished he brought out a sundae with a candle in it. Then he asked our son to go with him, to “meet a few people.” They walked out into the middle of the floor, and the waiter let out some kind of insane Tarzan yell, and the place went quiet. The music went off, everybody stopped talking, and it was total silence.
“May I have your attention? This is my man’s eighteenth birthday today, and on the count of three I want everybody to wish him a happy birthday!” the waiter hollered, at a stadium volume. Yeah, very subtle.
Then we started walking. We cut through Central Park, which was packed-out. The weather was perfection, and folks were taking advantage of the situation. The older boy and his girlfriend wanted to go the Metropolitan Museum of Art, so we walked all the way up there — which was about two miles.
And then Toney, the younger boy, and I kept walking. We ended up inside some crazy candy store, called Dylan’s Candy Bar. Upstairs there is an actual bar, and Toney had a Pop Rocks martini. I just had a bowl of ice cream, and a gallon of water. We still had a shitload o’ walking to do, and I had no desire for booze.
We were on the Upper East Side, home of the zillionaires. Very fancy, indeed. We just wandered around, went into some stores, etc. No plan, no hurry. But plenty of walking.
We gave the museum-goers a three hour window, and once that closed they called and we told them where to meet us. NYC feels so safe, and easy to navigate now. I first went there in 1978, or thereabouts, and it was a crime-ridden shithole. Or, that’s what it felt like to me, anyway. Not anymore. I had no qualms whatsoever in letting the boy and his girl walk to the Central Park bench we’d staked out. It was twenty blocks or so.
It was getting dark as we made our way back to Port Authority, and the bus to Secaucus. I snapped the photo at the top with my phone, in the middle of Times Square. It almost looks computer generated, but ain’t.
The second photo is our view from inside the Hard Rock Cafe, while we waited, and waited, and waited. Then, of course, Central Park. That’s followed by a rare photo of my son and his girlfriend on a sunny day. And finally, the view from our park bench, as we waited on them to return from the museum. All the photos are clickable, in case you’re interested.
We got home around midnight, and the next morning I felt like I’d been run over by a street sweeper, and dragged for a few blocks. I know we walked ten miles, maybe more. But it was pretty close to perfect: no problems, no stress, great weather…
Some other semi-interesting things happened, too. But I’m out of time here. We’ll catch up next time. How’s that sound?
Have yourselves a great day, my friends!