Monday, May 23, 2011

Taking Manhattan

How do you do New York City in two days?  Here's how we did. 

It was The Brunette's birthday.  She wanted to visit the Big Apple and catch a couple of shows to celebrate.  So she, The Redhead, The Man and I booked our flights.  We (she) decided on which shows to see.  We reserved our hotel rooms on the East Side.  And off we went one Friday morning in mid-May.

The Man and I arrived before "The Girls."  In the taxi ride to the Roger Smith hotel, we passed a Sports Authority store.  Both of us agreed that this would be the perfect place to buy a birthday gift for our sporty Brunette.  We decided to check in at the hotel and hoof it back to the store.  After unloading our bags, we walked down 48th Street and then up 2nd Avenue.  When we got to the lower 60's, The Man pointed out that he thought we'd walked too far.  In my resolve to always be right, I said "How could we have missed it?  It was on the northeast corner of one of these intersections."  We stumbled around for another ten or fifteen minutes, and then I let him take the lead. The store was on 51st and 3rd...

That night we were to see "That Championship Season" with Keifer Sutherland, Chris Noth and Jason Patric.  The Brunette checked the street address and then Google-Mapped it at the front desk of the hotel.  Near Broadway and 54th.  We started walking over to the area.  When we reached the street address; no theater.  We realized that we were Hell-and-gone from the Theater District.  The Brunette checked the street address.  45th Street, not 54th street.  Whoops...  We had to taxi it through the madness of Times Square to reach the theater in time.

The play was great, but a little hard to sit through.  It was about the reunion of a group of back-biting friends who had played together on a high school basketball team.  Set in 1972, it authentically portrayed the era.  More than a few mentions of the "N" word.  The audience seemed to collectively cringe at each utterance. 

At any rate, Chris Noth and Jason Patric were very good-looking in person.

After the play, we set out for SoHo for the birthday dinner.  I honestly thought that it was the end for all of us.  In addition to the crazed and nauseatingly high-speed driving of our cabbie, the New York streets were unbelievingly horrible.  We bounced, jerked and pitched all the way to the restaurant.

At the restaurant, I got a wonderful surprise.  We were handed the menus.  I couldn't read mine.  I had to borrow The Brunette's reading glasses.  That sealed it.  I am officially old.

The next day we headed to the West Side to take a boat tour around the island.  Our tour guide was...uhm, flamboyant.  As we floated by the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Brooklyn, Roosevelt Island, Queens and The Bronx, the four of us tried to determine if the guy was gay or not (in the age-old game of trying to make a person fit your tribe).   Finally we passed a hospital on the upper West Side.  The tour guide mentioned that the hospital was known for its exemplary neonatal unit.  He spoke of how his newborn son was treated there.  "There," I said.  "That settles it."

"Jason," The Man said.  "You have a son.  That doesn't make you straight."

"This guy's straight.  And if he is or not, it's not important."  I said, all superior-like.  The Man just smiled at me.

We left the boat and headed to Chelsea for a bite to eat.  We found a small Italian restaurant.  The food was wonderful.  As we were reaching the end of the meal, one of the daughters of the family-owned cafe came over to check on us.  She was very friendly and open, and with our being from the South, we naturally engaged her in conversation.  Then we got to hear how her eldest daughter was a "bitch," but nothing compared to her younger daughter, who was a "true bitch."  The woman was incredibly cute: blonde, petite with bright blue animated eyes and broad hand gestures.  Her references to her daughters were matter-of-fact.  But we were certain that she cared for each girl.  She knew her daughters and appreciated them both.

That night, we walked to the Theater District again (this time with no mishaps - as we knew where we were headed).  We saw "The Motherf***er with the Hat," a dark comedy starring Chris Rock.  As you would imagine, the language was pure filth. The play was hilarious, real, and completely entertaining.

We headed back to the hotel.  The Girls crashed.  The Man and I headed to Chelsea again to hang out at the New York leather bar.  We do that whenever we travel.  We like to be around our fellow homos, and the leather bars are home to the more friendly guys in the gay world.  New York's bar, the Eagle, was kind of run-of-the-mill: brooding, bearded quiet-types, leather-clad queens dancing to the house music, shirtless older muscle-boys.  I believe that we stayed for all of 30 minutes.

We flew out early the next morning:  7:30 on Sunday.  And back to the reality of our Houston life.

Things we did not have the time to do:  take in a Subway ride, hang out in Central Park, visit Greenwich Village, enjoy something artsy: like the MOMA or the Met. That's ok.  We'll return to the city.  

The thing that will stick in my mind more than any other happening in this trip? Walking back to the hotel from the theater Saturday night, we came across a street-person sleeping on a subway grate.  The Brunette stopped and roused the guy.  "You need anything, buddy?"  He smiled at her and shook his head.  Right there, I wanted to grab her and squeeze til it hurt.  Her birthday weekend, a woman who is quiet and witty, who has a good job and a good income ... stopping on the street to check on her fellow man.  

I went to New York to have fun.  I left with faith in humanity and the inspiration to be a little more compassionate.  Happy birthday to me.

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