A year and a half ago I went on an amazing trip to New York City with four of my besties. Five innocent 30 somethings, all born and raised in the Midwest, let loose in the Big Apple. It sounds like the premise for a cliché chick flick, so it is inevitable that hilarity ensued. With this particular group of friends, hilarity seems to ensue on a simple excursion to the local Pizza Hut, so shenanigans were indeed unavoidable on this trip.
There was the issue many of us had with stupidly thinking that pedestrians have the right of way when crossing the street. That is very true in the Midwest. That is not at all true in NYC, apparently. In fact, more than one of my friends had to be saved within inches of her life by being grabbed off the street as the blur of a yellow taxi went flying by. I’m pretty sure someone was ridiculously close to losing her toes. And for some reason my default reaction when I saw one of my friends in harm’s way was to scream “BIGAH!” and flap my arms wildly. I don’t know. I guess my inner Super Chicken was needing to be set free.
There was the incident at dinner before our night seeing a Broadway show. I don’t remember too much about it, but it allegedly involved my consumption of a couple (or four) appletinis. At one point, one of my friends (I think it was my friend, it may have been the waitress. Or a homeless person. Not sure.) looked at me and asked “What is in those appletinis?” Now that I am sober, I am aware that she was informing me that I must have been acting ridiculous. But at the time, I thought she really wanted a list of ingredients. So, I tried to act as sober as I could and responded with what I thought was obvious…. “What’s in appletinis? Ummm…..teeeeeeeny little apples!”. Duh. I am still reminded of that moment of genius frequently.
During our time in New York, we did all the touristy things that one must do when one visits New York. We saw a Broadway show, toured Ellis Island, the 9/11 Memorial, and the NBC studios, visited the Statue of Liberty, Times Square, Rockefeller Center, and Central Park, did about 163 guided double decker bus tours while rocking our GOTSB’s (Good Over the Shoulder Bags), chased pigeons, ate two hot dogs in one bun, walked past a nasty smelling bagel shop multiple times a day, bought matching leopard print scarves from shady vendors, got into a fight at the American Girl Doll Store, sang “Feed the Birds” from Mary Poppins at the top of our lungs every chance we got, kept our suitcases in plastic bags in an attempt to avoid bedbugs, and took millions of pictures of tall buildings and the Naked Cowboy.
Leslie, Molly, Mandy, Julie and I. And of course, Lady Liberty is the other one in green.
One of the most memorable moments of our trip was when the five of us decided to try and take the subway. Wait… I take that back. Two or three of us decided to take the subway, the rest were vehemently opposed to this prospect. I, being in the former group, asked “What’s the worst that could happen?” and those in the latter group looked at me like I had completely lost my mind and started naming a laundry list of possible tragedies that could occur on the subway: falling on the tracks, murder, rape, robbery, alien abductions, etc. Undeterred, I called to mind the best example of NYC subways that I could think of from the timeless 80’s film, “Adventures in Babysitting” where the babysitter takes her three charges on the subway. “Yes, one of the kids got stabbed when he got in the crossfire of rival gangs”, I recalled, “but remember, he only needed ONE STITCH??? We can handle one stitch. Besides, nowadays it would just be that glue stuff and not even real stitches.”
Somehow we got everyone to reluctantly agree that taking the subway was the most efficient way to get to our intended destination. Unfortunately, none of us had any clue how to maneuver the trains. In the Midwest, if you need help or directions, you ask someone for help and directions and 99.9% of the time, that person will gladly give you directions, put air in your low tires, and ask you if you need a sandwich for the road. Naively, we thought the same may be true in New York. Boy howdy, were we mistaken.
We saw a booth with a big sign labeled “Information Desk”. Synonymous with “Help Desk”, right? What better place to ask for help, right? Wrong. Very, very wrong. A few of us who had been the ones to suggest we ride the subway walked up to the improperly named “Information Desk” and came face to face with a giant black woman with long hair extensions, even longer fingernails, and look on her face like we were the most vile vermin she had ever laid eyes on.
“Yes?” she said. I’m pretty sure she was chewing gum.
“Hi! We were wondering if you could help us. We have never ridden on the subway before.”
She proceeded to roll her eyes so far back in her head I thought she was having a stroke and said to her coworker, “they have never ridden oh-on the sub-wa-ay.”
She rolled her eyes back to us and stared.
“Um, so what do we need to do?”
“You need to bah a ticket…………and git oh-on the train.”
“Okay….. so do we buy the ticket here….or….??”
“Okay…… so can we buy five tickets? Please?”
“I said ‘No’.”
“Okay, so where would we buy 5 tickets?”
She pointed with her head at a little ATM like ticket machine against the wall. Apparently having to speak to us was just too unbearable for her.
I decided it was time to end this friendly exchange and started to slowly back away. That’s when Molly decided to converse with the lovely woman. In my head I was screaming “Molly! NO! Don’t do it!!!”, but before the words could come out, it was too late. She had made contact.
“Excuse me? Do you know how long it will take to get to Fulton Street from here?” Molly asked.
The lady looked at Molly like she was utterly insane.
” AH HAVE NO IDEEEEEEA.”
“Okay, but can you…..” Molly started, until one of us grabbed her arm and dragged her away.
We managed to purchase five tickets and joined the rest of our group who were smart enough to keep a safe distance from the informative desk lady and proceeded to wait for the train.
We handed out the tickets and Leslie said “I don’t think this is a good idea. Maybe we should take a cab, or just walk”. Like 35 miles.
“Oh Leslie” I said, “it will be fine.”
Leslie turned on me so fast I thought her leopard print scarf was going to fly across the subway tracks.
“IT WILL NOT BE FINE!!!” She pretty much screamed at me.
She looked like she needed a hug, but I was too scared she was going to bite me so I just stood there, and then our train came.
We managed to wrestle Leslie onto the train and miraculously ended up where we were meaning to go without incident. It must have been because we received such helpful information from our newfound friend. Later, Leslie told me she gets agitated when she’s nervous and apologized for yelling at me.
“Oh, were you nervous? I couldn’t tell.” I blatantly lied to my friend. I’m thinking we should have let Leslie speak with Miss Personali-tay to get our instructions. They would have been a much more evenly matched pair. In her defense, Leslie was about 9 1/2 months pregnant. If anyone deserves to have some moments of irritability, it is definitely the pregnant woman who walked 47 miles over the course of 4 days like a boss!
The rest of us displayed our irritability on the last day of our trip after waking up at the ass crack of dawn to stand in line in the freezing cold for hours to star on the Today Show. Well, maybe ‘star’ is a stretch, but many of us did make our national television debut that day. And it was well worth waking up early for! I, personally, require at least 8 hours of beauty sleep in order to be my charming, happy self. So on this last day I was pretty much a hot mess. I think I may have cried more than once when I realized that we were going to have to go home and were not going to be able to wake up and smell the nasty bagel shop next to our hotel.
All in all, it was definitely one of the most memorable and fun trips I’ve ever been on. I’m blessed to have such fabulous friends for whom I will gladly squawk like a chicken if they are in imminent danger. I hope that we can make it back someday soon. We can walk right past Ms. “Information” and get on the train our own damn selves, thank you very much. Next time we should bring some birdseed with us for the pigeons, though.
Feed the birds….
Tuppence a bag……