Recently, on anne and wil's excellent new york adventure . . .
I reclined my seat to the maximum four degrees allowed, put on a silly eye mask, and settled in for a few hours of sleep.
That's when the turbulence started. Seriously! It was like the air was just waiting for me to close my eyes so it could start shaking the plane. Imagine that you're starting to fall asleep, and someone comes up and shakes your chair: "Hey! Wake up! Dude! Wake up!"
Yeah, it's hilarious now, but at the time? Not that funny.
"Strange things are afoot at the Circle K, Ted."
"I really want to see the Flatiron building," I said.
"I really wish you wouldn't talk in hyperlinks," Anne said.
"Sorry. I'm a blogger. I can't help it."
"It's people! It's people! Soylent Green is people!"
"Okay, we just have to walk up one more block, and then you'll totally recognize it," I said.
One block later, Anne said, "Hey! I totally recognize this building!"
"I know it's stupid to walk all the way up here just to look at a building with a funny shape," I said, "but since we never do authentically 'touristy' things, I thought this was a better plan than going to the Hard Rock."
"The blue wire? The blue wire?! Which one is the fucking blue wire?!
"Just stop it. This conversation isn't even happening. You're just making it up to amuse yourself."
It was true.
"How am I doing?"
"The real me would probably make a comment that's a lot funnier than anything you can come up with, and since you're putting words into my mouth anyway, I'm just going to say that you're handsome, suave and charming."
"Oh go on," I said.
"Also, when we get home, you should buy several classic game cabinets and put them in your office."
"You're the boss, dear," I said.
And now, part three.
The sun was setting as we walked downtown on Park. It threw pink light on the sides of buildings, turning West-facing windows into little pots of golden fire. At street level, we were covered in cooling shadows. We were expecting cold weather, but thanks to the myth of climate change, New York was enjoying an unseasonably warm day, with temperatures in the upper 70s. Sidewalk cafes were filling up as we passed them, music and people spilled out of every bar we passed.
We got to Galaxy the same time Kathleen and Atom arrived with Atom's friend Sheena, who I quickly learned was awesome. Though it was the day before their wedding, Kat and Atom were completely relaxed. I remembered how stressed out Anne and I were the day before our wedding, and admired them both. Maybe I envied them, just a little bit, but I kept that to myself.
Galaxy was awesome, and I ate my weight in incredible vegetarian food. After we were done, we walked them back to their apartment.
"I just love how all the sidewalk cafes are open tonight," Atom said.
"Yeah," I said, "the energy and sense of community they create is really cool. We don't have anything quite like this where we live." I thought for a moment. "Well, not that's close enough to walk to, or stays open late."
Kathleen and Atom have been bi-costal for about a year, but they recently decided to permanently move to New York, and after just a couple of hours in their neighborhood, I could completely understand why.
We spent a little time at their apartment, where we did not subject my wife to a furious Guitar Hero III battle betwixt Atom and myself on their Wii. "I'm trying real hard to keep the massive geeking out to a minimum on this trip," I said, "so it will also be a vacation for Anne."
The controller glowed with a seductive light that only I could see. I turned my back to it and pretended it wasn't there. Nobody asked me why I was flushed and sweating. I wouldn't have been able to tell them why if they did.
Eventually, it was time for us to leave and let them get some rest, since they were, you know, getting married and everything in less than 24 hours.
We passed the same sidewalk cafes and several bars on our way back to the hotel. I lingered by one of them and said to Anne, "I think we should stop here and have a beer, on principle."
"Yeah, on principle. How often do we get to just walk into a bar that's filled with people and music, have a beer, and then walk right back out to . . . well, not to home, but to where we're sleeping. What I mean is --"
"Stop." She said. "You had me at 'beer.'"
My wife is awesome.
We went inside, and found two seats at the end of the bar, near the door. I couldn't believe our luck; the place was packed, standing-room only, and we'd gotten two great seats, right when we walked in . . . underneath the freezing air conditioner, which was pouring -- no, blasting -- down on the two seats.
We ordered two Sierra Nevadas and sat there, in the frozen air, on principle. Our good luck continued, when, after just a few minutes, the air either switched off, or was deflected away by my +3 field of awesome or we just got used to it, or something.
The Mets and the Yankees were both playing, and the games were on several televisions hanging over the patrons, who weren't shy about declaring their loyalty. It was loud in the bar, but not obnoxious.
Well, not until the three Wall Street guys and their Princess friend from Long Island showed up. Wall Street Guy Number One called the bartender over, and asked him for a Coors Light on draft.
I bit my beer snob lip and kept quiet. The bartender told Wall Street Guy Number One that they didn't have Coors Light on draft, only Bud Light.
This is when Wall Street Guy Number One smacked his open palm down on the bar, hard, to express his displeasure at this most distressing news.
"Fine," he said, "I'll just have a Stella."
I bit my lip a little harder.
For the next fifteen minutes or so, we couldn't help but listen to these guys play a verbal game of "Who has the biggest dick in the room?" It was incredibly amusing, and everything made sense when Wall Street Guy Number Three revealed that they were all in the same fraternity together. This supports my theory that, even when you're in your mid-twenties, out of college and working for The Man, you can still be a Frat Guy.
We finished our beer, and -- as so often happens when we sit down for 'just a beer' -- I wanted another.
Anne said, "Do you want one more before we go?"
"It's getting a little obnoxious in here," I said. "Let's go down the block and find someplace else."
"Are you suggesting we go . . ." she paused, and tilted her head to one side as she raised an eyebrow. ". . . bar-hopping?"
I caught the bartender's eye, and waved my hand in the universal gesture for "check please." I hoped he wouldn't noticed that we'd kept a tab open, and put exactly one beer each on it.
"Well, I guess since we're moving from one bar to another, it's technically bar-hopping," I said, "but isn't it more like three or four before you're officially doing it?"
"No," she said, "that's when you're on a pub crawl."
The bartender dropped off our bill and I signed for it.
"Well, I guess we're bar-hopping then," I said. "On principle."
We stood up. As I attempted to navigate my way around the Frat Guys, the girl with them tossed her hair back, sniffed dramatically and said, "Well, I just don't like to hang out with people who are more attractive than I am."
"You must not have too many friends," I thought, and gave myself a mental high-five.
We walked down a block and found another bar. This one was quieter and not nearly as crowded. The bartender spoke in an Irish brogue that was too thick to be a put on. I was surprised to see that they had Mirror Pond Pale Ale on draft, so I asked for a pint.
He looked at Anne.
"Make it two," she said.
This bar was way more our speed, and before we knew it, we were into our second pint. That's when I overheard the following bit of conversation from behind us:
Guy 1: Isn't Thailand the place to get, like, 10 year-old boys?
Guy 2: Why would you even want that?
Guy 1: I don't! I'm just saying that --
Guy 2: What's wrong with you?
Guy 1: I'm just saying that if that's what you wanted, Thailand is the place to go.
Guy 2: I can't be associated with you.
Before you wig, there wasn't even a hint of seriousness in the conversation, which I dutifully recorded on a cocktail napkin, having left my little notebook that I carry for recording exactly this sort of thing in my backpack. You know, so I wouldn't lose it.
The two guys began discussing their hatred of Facebook. The last thing I wrote down was, "Do not put me on Facebook! I will fucking kill you if you put me on Facebook. Get me the fuck off the Internet! Next time I'm on the Internet, it will be on Wikipedia."
Yeah, I don't know what he meant, either, but after three beers, it was funny enough for me to write it down.
It was getting late, and though our bodies thought it was three hours earlier, we'd still been up for about 14 hours on less than five hours of quality sleep. All of a sudden, we were exhausted, and ready to collapse like the Mets down the stretch.
I put some cash on the bar, and we walked back to our hotel. It was nearly midnight, but the city was still vibrant and alive around us.
As I fell into bed I thought, "Man, this city really never does sleep."
Seconds later, I was a Viking.
To be continued . . .