Thursday, November 19, 2009

A weekend in New York: Chapter one

When Blake and Evan started talking about going to see Wicked, I sort of thought it was just one of those things—one of those things you talk about doing but never actually get around to. I did hope to be back in New York this year. It’s centrally located between here and New Haven. I figured that Graci and I would meet there when we could find a weekend off and a reasonable deal on a hotel. She and I would stay a few days, walk around the city, drink coffee, chat, drink beer, chat some more, hang we do. I thought that would be the extent of it.

When Blake and Evan mentioned Wicked, I was all over it. “We should do that!” I said. “I love that show, and Graci has always wanted to see it, too. She’ll have to come down for the weekend.” Then, before I knew what was happening, we were really doing it.

I’m going to have to make a note of this bizarre actually doing the things you say you’re going to do phenomenon on the off chance that they someday suggest, say, robbing a bank. Or worse, camping. I tend to reflexively agree with nebulous plans, confident that I’ll never actually have to break any federal laws or sleep on the ground. Not with these two, though. These two really do the stuff they talk about doing. Like I said…it’s completely bizarre.

Not only do they do these things. They plan them. Evan texted me last week, days (days, I tell you) before we would actually be consuming the meal, to ask where we were going to eat on Saturday night. “Do we need reservations?” he wanted to know.

I called Graci. “Well, shit,” I said. “They want to plan the weekend. The whole weekend. Planned. Evan asked me today where we were going to eat. I was thinking, uh, I don't know. Somewhere that serves food close to wherever we happen to be when we’re hungry.

You know, when they went to Europe, they did stuff. They did Europe. They planned it, and then they did it. I’ve seen the pictures. They’re doing things in all 800 of them. Do you know what we would do if we went to Europe?”

“We’d walk around Europe,” she said, matter-of-factly.

“Yes. We’d walk around Europe. We’d show up, drop our bags at the hotel, and then we’d go walk around Europe. I mean, when we go to Florida, we basically do nothing for three weeks straight. We go nowhere. We see no one. We do nothing.”

“We walk around the beach,” she offered.

“That’s all we do. We walk around Florida.”

“Yeah,” she said, wistfully. “I love that. But back to dinner…can we go to Chipotle?”

“Um, I’m pretty sure that when Evan asked if I’d made reservations yet, he didn’t mean, ‘Do you think we can get a table at Chipotle?’”

“But I love Chipotle. And we still don’t have one in New Haven. Do you know how long it’s been since I’ve had a burrito bowl?” she asked, with more than a hint of desperation in her voice.

“Listen, you and I can go to Chipotle on Sunday before we leave. Saturday night, though, I think we’re going to have to eat at a real restaurant. Somewhere they take reservations, perhaps.”

She sighed. “Alright…as long as at some point during this weekend we can get a burrito bowl.”

“Deal,” I said.

I got off the phone, shook my head, and laughed. They wanted me to find a place with a nice wine list. She wanted to eat at a Mexican fast food chain. I probably should have been a little worried, but something about that amused me.

On Saturday morning, I met the boys at their apartment and we headed for the train station. At the train station, we caught a bus to New York. (And you thought we’d be taking a train, didn’t you? Yes, well, in hindsight, they may have been a better plan.)

The Bolt Bus runs in between Baltimore and New York. The word Bolt and the accompanying streak of lightning painted on the side seemed to imply that this trip would be happening with some speed. The implication is there because, well, have you ever seen slow lightning?

I have, actually. It is painted on the side of a bus that runs in between Baltimore and New York. This particular bolt of not-so-greased lightning arrived a half hour late and then sat on the side of the road for another twenty minutes while the driver mounted his soapbox and delivered an impassioned speech on the annoyance of cell phones—a speech I missed, for the most part, as I was busy, checking my voicemail.

Blake, Evan, and I were some of the last to board the bus. We looked for three seats reasonably close to each other and found them in the back. Blake and I ended up in aisle seats across from one another. Evan was behind us on the end of row of three, the last row on the bus. He had a couple of young marrieds on his left—a guy with longer legs than any single bus seat could contain and some lovable little idiot he called his wife. On Evan’s right was the door to the bathroom. Whenever someone opened it, he had to crawl into the leggy guy’s lap to avoid being smacked in the forehead with the door.

Blake had a somewhat similar experience in that the girl next to him spent three hours trying to crawl into his lap, just because she thought that might be a nice place to sit.

Thus began a series of frantic texts messages that went like this…
She’s touching me.
She’s touching me A LOT.
She won’t stop.

I tried to comfort him by saying things like…
What can I say, man?
You’re a handsome fella.
She wants you.
She wants you bad.

He threw up in his mouth a little.
I resolved to quit bitching about how much I pay for my texting plan as this made it worth every penny.

I was sitting next to a perfectly lovely, well-groomed woman in her 30s. She stayed in her own space and was not at all fidgety. Unfortunately, she clearly wanted to chat a bit. This necessitated a change in seat assignments.

She was grading papers. Evan is a teacher. They had something in common. Plus, he’s sweet and charming. He wouldn’t mind making small talk. It was a match made in bus trip heaven. She looked a me a little funny when I turned around and motioned for him to trade me seats. I wanted to say, “Trust me, lady, I’m doing this for you. You’re going to love this guy. I love this guy, and I don’t even really like most people.”

In truth, of course, I was doing it for me. The nagging guilt from blatantly ignoring her obvious need to chit chat was gnawing at me and keeping me from fully enjoying my book. And, given the choice between making small talk with a stranger and being smacked in the forehead repeatedly with a bathroom door, I will choose the bathroom door. Every time.

Evan and I switched seats. Some guy who had consumed more Gatorade during the first half of the bus trip than my dad did during his last marathon headed my way. As he reached for the bathroom door, I scrambled into the lap of the leggy dude next to me. A baby started to fuss nearby. The leggy dude’s wife turned, gazed up at him with her big doe eyes, blinked a few times, and asked, “Why do babies cry?” He looked at me in desperation. It was look that said not, How do I explain this? but rather, Why did I marry this? I shrugged my shoulders and went back to my book.

A couple hours later, we were in New York. I had been in and out of a guy’s lap more than an industrious stripper. Evan had made a new friend. Blake had unwittingly gone to second base with the girl sitting next to him.

On that note, I think I’ll stop here for now. Blake’s not much of a reader. Before he started my blog, it was pretty much just cereal boxes and his own Facebook page. Remember when you first started reading? You didn’t dive right into Anna Karenina. No, you began with tiny chapter books. They slowly eased you, the young reader, into novels. Similarly, I think it’s best that I don’t make these posts too long, so as not to overwhelm my friend. I would hate to discourage the guy before he gains the confidence to tackle, say, a whole People magazine.


Anna said...

I loved the post. It was like I was there, except it was better! Because, well, I was not there.


I actually didn't start with tiny chapter books. I started with books from a French aristocrat called Comtesse de Ségur who wrote high-brow books for her grandchildren. They did have chapters but they were about 300-350 pages long and with really big, complicated words. A sort of Anna Karenina for kids. I did the tiny chapter books a little while later. But then again, I'm weird.

Blazer said...

I am looking forward to future chapters.

Eric said...

If only I could truly laugh my ass off, my pants would fit so much better right now thanks to you.

So, um, why not the train?

Shan said...

Good grief good grief! You and your greased lightnin' are killing us all. There's no way your friend won't become a reader now. But I do see your wisdom in feeding him bits at a time. Yep I do.

I'm jealous of the New York Wicked trip. I cried off and on through that sucker when I saw the traveling show in Tulsa, Ok. The music that I could sing along with and the visuals together were too beautiful to take in!!
sob sob! ;)

secret agent woman said...

DId the leggy guy mind you crawling all over him?

Maria said...

Why didn't you take the train?

Susanlee said...

I CANNOT wait to hear the rest of this story!!

I hate sitting next to people on trains/buses/planes that want to talk. I don't think I'd mind sitting in a guys lap though...oh crap. Does that make me the girl sitting next to Blake?

dive said...

Holy Moley, T: This has got to be the pitch for a new Hollywood gross-out weekender movie.
Except that you write so much better than they deserve.
Bring on the next chapter!

Terroni said...

We took the bus instead of the train because it was much, much cheaper.

You get what you pay for.

jenny said...

so funny! you have got to write like this all the time!x

.j.william. said...

goddamn google reader just let me know about all of these! Instead of getting the installments in lovely, tantalizing bits I will now gorge myself on the entire story (with wine, natch).