You and me
We come from different worlds
You like to laugh at me
When I look at other girls
Sometimes you’re crazy
And you wonder why
I’m such a baby
Cause the Dolphins make me cry
Well there’s nothing I can do
I only wanna be with you
You can call me your fool
Only wanna be with you
– Hootie and the Blowfish
Mr. Big turned 30 last Wednesday.
That morning, when he got in the car to go to work, you would have thought I was dropping him off at the county jail. “Happy Birthday!” I shouted out for the third time already. “Yeah. I’m officially old now,” was his reply. After a beat, I looked over and said, “Gah, you’re thirty. Can you believe it? Like when people ask, ‘So, how old are you?’ you have to say, ‘I’m thirty.’ Man! So weird!”
That’s me, always looking for the silver lining.
For years now, I have been planning on taking Big to Vegas for his thirtieth birthday. The whole “family” was going to go. It was supposed to be a huge deal.
And then everyone decided to get married instead.
Sooooo, I made the executive decision to take Big to Vegas for his thirtieth birthday anyway – despite who was able to go. It was going to be a huge surprise. Just me, him, Vegas, and Celine Dion. (What? It was my birthday too.)
And then he made an ass out of himself, guessed what I was planning, and told me he would rather go racing instead.
“Go racing,” I thought, “I’ll celebrate my own birthday, dickweed.”
The next day Joan, Ashleigh, Kaley, and I booked our tickets to New York.
On Thursday, June 12, JACK (Joan, Ashleigh, Clariss, and Kaley) got on a plane headed to LaGuardia. We spent three nights at the W hotel in Times Square. For three whole days, we walked around the most glamorous city in the universe.
The four of us had a blast.
Our flight was delayed two hours. We sat in the airport Chili’s and killed time sipping on $15.00 margaritas and bottomless chips and salsa. Why is airport shit so expensive? They already have you by the balls when it comes to paying for luggage and leg room – you know, shit you’ve already paid for – but I’ll be damned if they don’t jab it in just a little harder when it comes to food and drinks also. Bastards. We had a nice time though, just sitting and chatting.
When we finally boarded the plane, all I wanted to do was close my eyes, but it must not have been written in the clouds for me.
The young guy who was originally sitting behind Kaley and myself was asked to move. A father/son duo replaced him. The kid sat directly behind me. At first, I chalked his incessant kicking up to excitement. He was four, maybe? Whatever. Once we took off he would probably settle down, right?
I actually laughed about it to Kaley…
At some point prior to take off, we noticed another child was on board. This one was only a couple rows back from first class and boy was it mad. The kid was screaming, and flailing, and sobbing uncontrollably. The sounds coming from the front of the plane sounded like an infant – a newborn almost. And even though it wasn’t very nice, or empathetic, Kaley and I chuckled from our fairly quiet row towards the back of the aircraft.
Meanwhile, the toddler behind me continued to play soccer against my seat. He yelped, and laughed, and jabbered to his father.
After we were in the air, and it was safe to move about the plane, a male flight attendant walked back to speak with the Dad sitting behind us. Suddenly, the person across the aisle from Dad stood and started walking forward. Shit. Kaley and I turned and locked eyes. We knew exactly what the other was thinking. Devil Kid was Karate Kid’s little brother…
The mother holding the screaming child stood. She turned toward us and started dragging the wailing spawn to the back of the plane. I immediately hated her.
Now, before you start getting all judgey, let me preface this by telling you that the child throwing the tantrum (you know, the one we had originally thought was a tiny baby…) was probably a good three years old. He wasn’t a newborn. He was a whole year older than the “he should know better” threshold. And – and – this mother had been allowing him to beat the shit out of her. She was a wreck. Her glasses were crooked, her hair was all over the place, and her clothes were a mess.
The two of them sat in the empty seat behind Joan (across the isle from Kaley). Devil Kid continued to scream until Mom switched seats and handed him over to Dad. And then it stopped. The screaming stopped. I turned around expecting to see an unconscious 3-year-old but instead I saw a sweet child nuzzling his father’s neck. Aww, he just wanted Dad, that’s all.
Still no excuse for him acting like an idiot, but sweet, nonetheless.
As we continued our journey toward New York I began to notice something terrible. It seemed the demon that once possessed the 3-year-old had made its way into the body of the 4-year-old behind my seat. He beat on the plane window, and kicked the back of my chair, and refused to put his seat belt on. It felt as if he were jumping off of his seat and onto the back of mine. Like a ninja. This kid was a demon ninja and he was growing more and more powerful by the minute.
I was really starting to get pissed.
Mom refused to say a word to this asshole about his bad behavior. Well, that’s not entirely true, she was speaking to him… just in a different language. And that pissed me off more. “Is she even getting onto him? Is she threatening his best video games… his beloved Dora… his effing life, for f*&k’s sake?! What the hell is she saying?” I thought, as I pushed back as far as I could on the seat.
During our decent to LaGuardia it got really bad. When the male fight attendant from earlier walked over to advise Mom her son had to hook his seat belt for landing, Dad leaned over and said, “You tell him. He’ll listen if you tell him.” What tha what?! Did Dad just tell the flight attendant to parent his kid? And sure enough, the flight attendant did… not once, or even twice, but three different times.
By the time we hit the ground I was livid. My back hurt, my anxiety had peaked, and I was gritting my teeth. However, every bit of the patience I had left went out the window when that little bastard started slamming his tray table up and down. I turned around in my seat and yelled, “Can you puh-lease stop that!”
Now that I think about it, what I should have said was, “Do it one more time, kid, and I’ll kick your Momma’s ass.”
That woman deserved a good ass-kickin’. You don’t let your children act like a bunch of idiots, refuse to discipline the fools, and then ask a stranger to parent them when they refuse to follow the rules. You made ’em, you raise ’em, bitch.
Joan thought I was going to get us killed before we even made our way out of the airport.
I got us a town car and tried to unwind during our ride to Times Square. It was 11:00 p.m. and raining. The lights of Manhattan danced across the black sky. Car horns and sirens filled our ears.
We had made it.
The lobby of the W was made out of glass and running water. It felt as if we were over sized goldfish stuck in a giant fish bowl. The water, and flowers, and lighting were to die for. After checking in, we stepped onto another elevator to take us up to the 38th floor. Our ears popped as the elevator whisked us up to our room. As soon as we opened the door to our suite we dropped our suitcases and ran back downstairs to the street.
I stood in the middle of Times Square amazed still by all of the lights. How could it nearly be midnight yet still be so bright? There were so many people out. We refused to let the mist force us in and took photos of each other instead. But when the rain finally did come, we grabbed a few drinks in The Living Room of our hotel before heading up to bed.
Our hotel was on 47th and Broadway – literally in the middle of Times Square – which worked out perfectly considering it was supposed to rain all day Friday. We walked down a few blocks to pick up our New York passes (basically like an all-you-can-eat pass for anything that is everything in the city) and then headed to Carnegie Deli for breakfast. All of us ended up ordering sandwiches and cheesecake at 10:30 in the morning. Seriously, how do you go to an infamous deli and get eggs? We’ll take the triple-decker turkey sandwich, thanks.
The rain let up after brunch and as we walked to the Empire State Building the sun peeked through the clouds. It was turning out to be a beautiful day.
Walking into the Empire State Building sort of catches you off guard. I guess I didn’t expect too much out of the building. I just figured all of the opulence would be found on the decks of the 86th floor. However, I couldn’t have been more wrong. The building is stunning inside and out. Even the employees are dressed in mahogany-colored suits from head-to-toe. It was amazing to see the city from the clouds. We took picture after picture. We tried to spot various NYC staples from the sky. And then, we made the long elevator trip back down to the street and walked over to the Museum of Sex… ’cause that’s just how we do.
That afternoon, we walked through Madison Square Park (my favorite) and I took pictures of the Flat Iron building through the bright green trees. We watched men walk dogs wearing leather booties and women usher around little girls carrying baby dolls. After catching our breath, we hailed a cab and rode over to Discovery Times Square. I was thrilled our New York passes included the Bodies exhibit; howevs, before we started looking around we had to have a snack first. Thankfully, Georgetown Cupcakes was in the basement of the museum. I got a Coffee Cookies & Cream cupcake. It didn’t disappoint.
Anywho, I have been wanting to see this Bodies exhibit for years. No, really… like, whole entire years. What those scientists have done with real bodies is amazing… and beautiful… and heart-wrenching all at the same time. Joan and I could not get over how poetic the whole exhibit was. We viewed multiple bodies, yet, never knew what color the person’s skin was, where they came from, how they died, or who they were while they lived. It was an entire exhibit devoted to the mantra: “A person, is a person, is a person.” End of story.
It was magnificent to see in real life everything you know in your heart to be true.
The irony of us topping the Bodies exhibit off with Madame Tussauds did not escape me. Both museums were totally worth it and completely exceeded my expectations but in totally different ways. Seeing the bodies was almost a spiritual experience. The wax museum… was just pure fun. Johnny Depp was so life-like I had to touch him just to be sure. I took selfies with Kim K., Michael Jackson, and Whitney (Houston [duh]). I hung out with the Spice Girls, Katy Perry, Biggie, and Pac. It was so neat seeing how intricate the detailing was on these over-sized dolls. Like, they were done down to the freckle!
On Friday night, we ate at an upscale Mexican restaurant – Rosa Mexicano – on First Avenue. It was ‘iiight. I mean, I’ve had better. From there, we tried a couple of different bars but nothing seemed to work out. The bouncer at Haven said our party of four was too large, the waitress at The View tried to charge us a cover, and The Rum House didn’t have any air conditioning. Kaley and I ended up sitting at the bar of a Buffalo Wild Wings around the corner from the hotel. Woo NYC nightlife.
Since the rain had threw our Friday plans off, we had to squeeze a lot into Saturday. We grabbed a quick breakfast at Pick A Bagel and hopped in a cab headed to Battery Park. The line to catch the Statue of Liberty ferry was sort of ridiculous but understandable. That’s what people come to New York for, right?
Once we were on the boat we opted to stay put. The view of the statue was best from the water anyway and it would only cost us even more precious time waiting for another ferry to take us back to Manhattan. While droves of ferry riders headed toward the island, the four of us girls headed to the top deck of the boat for better views. The wind whipped our hair all over the place, the sun glistened off of the water, and the Lady herself towered over us in the distance. “This is America,” I thought, “This is what millions of people come to see year, after year.”
She was majestic and surprisingly welcoming. She wasn’t daunting or cold, like most of the statues in D.C. Ironically, she was very feminine and warm. I wonder if they did that on purpose… I wonder if they made her a woman on purpose.
It was the perfect sort of day to take photos of the city from the water. Every building glistened in the distance. The One World Trade Center building dominated my line of sight. It penetrated the bright blue sky like the needle of an IV – our lifeline of hope. I couldn’t wait to get to the memorial.
After arriving back at the dock, I navigated us towards the Bull of Wall Street. Ash and I touched his balls. They’re good luck, no? Well, just to play it safe, Kaley and I had our picture made with his head too. We took photos of the Wall street sign while we visited the Trinity Root Sculpture. Before long, we were ready to tackle Ground Zero.
The closer we got to One World Trade, the more bodies piled in around us. When we rounded the corner and saw the first memorial pool I almost breathed a sigh of relief. It was beautiful. The water, and the trees, and the sky… everything was just breathtaking.
For a split second, I tried to imagine what it would have looked like without the pools but I quickly decided I didn’t want to know. I’m not sure what I would have done if I would have visited when there were still just holes in the earth. I’m not sure that image would have ever left my mind. I prefer the one I have – an image of beauty and new life.
The only thing that troubled me about the whole experience were the men standing on the sidewalks selling 9/11 novelties. That part disgusted me. Anything to make a buck. Not an ounce of respect for the dead or the living. I hated every one of them.
Unfortunately, our New York passes did not include the new 9/11 museum; however, it did include the small Tribute Center up the road. And honestly, I think that was a good thing because I’m not sure my heart could have handled the larger museum. I kept biting my tongue to keep myself from sobbing. I walked through the small building at a snail’s pace – mouth hanging open – reading every single word. The other girls waited on a bench at the end for me to finish.
It’s amazing what kind of pain we can endure. It’s amazing what we can live through. It’s amazing how strong our hearts are. I am so grateful I was able to experience One World Trade. I hope to go back again, and again.
Chinatown was next on the list. Ashleigh had her heart on a fake bag. Sooooo, when a nice Asian-looking gentleman approached me and whispered, “You waaan purrrrse?” we followed. Ash haggled a deal for a Louis hobo in a phone booth on a Chinatown corner. Hey, when in Rome, ehh? We followed that up with an early dinner out on a patio in Little Italy. From Little Italy, we went to Walgreens for cheap beer and wine.
The plan was: pre-game at the hotel, get dressed up, and then go out.
But then we fell asleep… at 8:00 p.m.
Since our hotel was right across the street from Forever 21, Express, and The Disney Store… we felt it our obligation to do a little shopping before we left. I bought a few things at Express but tried to keep my spending to a minimum. Why? Because the plan was to eat lunch at The Plaza.
I loved getting into a cab and instructing the cabby to drop us off at Tha Plah-zah. I all but said it with my pinkie in the air. The Plah-zah. Aren’t I such a snot bag?! The hotel was just gorge. The chandeliers – ugh, I died. Kaley and I really wanted to eat at The Palm Court but they weren’t seating people other than guests…
So, we ate in the basement with the common folk.
And when I say “basement” I mean the most exquisite European-style cafeteria you’ve ever friggin’ seen! It was delish too. I highly recommend. I also highly recommend spending summer Sunday afternoons walking through Central Park. It was beautiful out. The trees were bright green, locals were tanning on the open lawns, and vendors speckled the walk ways. We watched the squirrels play and a man feed some pigeons Home Alone 2 style. I even stopped to enjoy a cupcake on a park bench just so I could say I had.
But our trip had to come to an end eventually…
We flew back that evening and made it home before midnight.
Although I was disappointed we didn’t celebrate Big’s 30th the way I had envisioned – trashin’ it up in Vegas – I enjoyed my time in New York. I enjoyed the long weekend with my ladies, in a city I love, experiencing the wonderment that is Manhattan. As for Big, his birthday ended up being super low-key. We grilled chicken at Momma B’s and played volleyball in the pool with a few friends.
And even though he crushed the Vegas celebration dreams I had for us, I still managed to outsmart him…
We’re going to Miami at the end of the year! Sure, it may have costed me a few hundred dollars and a full day commitment to the Dolphins/Jets game but we’re going to Miami! Wahoo! Suck on that, raceboy!
Gah, I just love birthdays.