Actually, we packed our Equinox to the hilt with butt wipes, footie pajamas, and dog kibble. We drove to my folks' condo in Maryland; took 45 minutes to unload the car; reviewed my three-page baby instruction manual with both my dad and my stepmom, allowing for a follow-up question-and-answer session; set up the travel crib, tastefully arranging stuffed animals in each corner; explained what "poopity" means ("I need to poop on the potty in T-minus 10 seconds"); suggested that Pork Chop lay off the sugar; fed Pork Chop a scone; watched as our son gleefully flung picture frames from a low shelf; and left for the train station just as the dog began to nervously circle the dining room table.
Although we did board our train by 11, we didn't actually have drinks until noon. We are, after all, well-bred. Also, it took an hour before we realized that the snack car sold booze.
|Sexiest snack car ever! (JK. This was snapped at our hotel's aptly named Blue Bar.)|
The bottom line is that we did, in fact, make it to New York. I'm a touch relieved that no one was twirling on the sidewalk a la Mary Tyler Moore; those walkways are tight on space. Instead, folks either walked while texting or stood still while muttering, "Designer handbag? You want Louis Vuitton?" Interesting fact: If you are a lady with acrylic fingernails and sequined jeans, there is a 90% chance you cannot resist the siren call of "Louis Vuitton."
But let me quit meandering and tell you what went down. You know me by now, so you also know that I could take a 2-day trip and turn it into the great American novel. Rather than recounting every detail, let me cut to The Good, The Bad, and The Surrealist.
The Algonquin Hotel / Porn for Bookworms: We stayed at The Algonquin Hotel, site of the famous Algonquin Round Table — a gathering of some of the greatest writers and wits of the early 20th century. The New Yorker was practically born at that hotel, and god knows I love a pedantic cartoon! Round table member Dorothy Parker — a poet, short story writer, and satirist — once said, "You can lead a horticulture, but you can't make her think." That quote is particularly meaningful to me, because I love plants.
|I'm sitting at THE round table, concentrating on balancing that pumpkin on my head.|
The New York Public Library / That Place Where They Filmed Ghostbusters: Our hotel was just a few blocks from the famed New York Public Library. The locale was a cornucopia of wonder: Patience and Fortitude, the stone lions who guard the library's entrance; the intricately decorated barrel ceilings; the white-gloved researchers, turning the pages of rare first editions; pretending I was Egon Spengler, inventor of the proton pack, discovering a ghost in the self-help section. (Come on. If you were relegated to haunting the sad pervs who just want to read Fifty Shades of Grey for free, you'd definitely be boning up on some Oprah-recommended self-affirmations.) Right, so between the books and the Ghostbusters flashbacks, my 8-year-old self was practically tinkling in her acid-wash jeans.
Scalini Fedeli / Fancy-Ass Food for Fancy-Ass People: On Saturday night, we dressed up, hopped a cab for Tribeca, took a parting glance at our savings account, and settled in for a three-course meal at Scalini Fedeli. The waiters wore tuxes. The male dinners wore pinkie rings and dyed their mustaches to match their toupees. I knew right away that we would love our meal and/or be collateral damage in a mob hit. Obviously, I didn't die, but if I had, at least I would have died in the sweet, pillowy embrace of my goat cheese gnocchi. And did I mention that they served us sorbet between courses? Sweet fruity sorbet! The waiter told me it was a palate cleanser. Well, well, well. That was a revelation. I have a half-pound of Halloween candy left in my pantry, and let's just say that I'll be doing some serious palate cleansing this November.
Spending Time with a Friend / Free Booze: For months, I've chatted with Leslie from Hungry Little Animal. Mostly, we send each other Holy Bible-length instant messages on Facebook while our respective children eat pennies, play with knives, are overcome by ennui, whatever. Because Leslie lives in New York City, she invited my husband and me to drop by for cocktails. My enthusiasm for finally meeting her in person was matched only by my thirst for free booze. I was not disappointed on either front. Leslie and I chatted easily. Her daughter is tiny and wide-eyed and amazingly articulate at just 3 years old. ("What did you think of trick-or-treating?" her mom asked. "I did not care for it," the wee one responded with the complete composure.) And Leslie's friendly, easy-going husband whipped up St. Germain cocktails that made me feel fabulously old-timey, in that I couldn't remember much after I drank them. Huzzah!
Little Italy / Chinatown / The Realization of My Ricotta Cheese Fantasy: We strolled through both Little Italy and Chinatown. The two neighborhoods blend one into the other. Shops selling dried salamis and plastic replicas of the Pieta muscle up to markets teeming with explicit-looking geoduck clams (Google it) and baskets of cloud ear fungus. The sights were amazing, even if the smells sometimes made me question my faith in God. We wandered for an hour or two, and just when we agreed to hoof it back uptown for lunch, I spotted the Cannoli Express cart. You read that correctly: a cannoli cart. Just sitting there on a side street like it was no big deal, like little Italian cream-filled pastries aren't a sign that there's hope for this world, like "cannoli" doesn't mean "tube of fulfillment" in Italian. I ate three.
|. . . and nothing was ever the same again.|
Migraine in a New York City Cab / 2014 Space Odyssey: It's not New York's fault that I got a migraine on Saturday night. I'd slept poorly the week before. I didn't drink enough water. I had wine with dinner. In short, I was asking for it. The jackhammers of pain began their miserable work just as we paid the check at Scalini Fedeli. We quickly snagged a cab back to our hotel, but a 4-mile drive through Manhattan on a Saturday night feels a lot like being in a Kubrick film. The flashing neon signs, the honking of angry horns, the sway of the car weaving in and out of traffic. One of two things is going to happen during this ride, I thought to myself: I'm going to vomit down the front of my new thigh-shaper tights or I'm going to exit this dimension via a star gate and witness my own death from a cool, out-of-body distance. (Note: Neither happened. Thank you, legally prescribed narcotics!)
Subway Smell / The World's Biggest Potty: For cost and reliability, New York's subway system has it all over DC's Metro. But for general lack of pee-pee and rats, DC's Metro is still the classiest act in public mass transit. Seriously, New York, the combo of uric acid and rodenticide burned a hole in my sinuses.
Hoda Kotb / Not Tina Fey: I have nothing against Hoda Kotb, cohost of TODAY's "Kathie Lee & Hoda" show, but, look, I went to New York to become best friends with Tina Fey. (And to sleep past 6 AM. (And to spend quality time with my husband. (But mostly the best friends thing.))) Shelby and I took in 70 floors at ol' 30 Rockefeller Plaza, and the only celeb we saw was Hoda. She looks tall. She looks pretty. She even looks friendly. I know in my heart, though, that she wouldn't understand my psychosexual relationship with Tostitos. But Tina would.
MoMA / Dingus Drawings: I wanted to get my nerd-on for 2 hours. Just 2 damn hours. Shelby knew well in advance of our departure for NYC that I wanted to visit MoMA. And we did. There were works by Warhol and Matisse and Picasso and Pollock. There was an exhibition of computer-generated "living" organisms, manmade voice boxes, biodegradable mine-sweeping devices — art that pushes the limits of invention. I pointed out the delicate Bell-47D1 helicopter hung from the museum ceiling, thinking my favorite aerospace engineer might find it interesting. I steered Shelby toward the video installations, toward the untamed canvases of Jean Dubuffet, but it seems that my husband's favorite work of art is the selfie, followed perhaps by the act of pointing out sculptures that look like poop.
We left early and went to FAO Schwarz to look at stuffed animals and buy candy.