Monday, June 26, 2006

Dusty 'Deli' Bottoms

Where to start? I mean I take a few days off from writing and the ideas, stories, and events just seem to pile up faster than I can get them written. I wish I wrote every day, I do, however, late evenings, early meetings, and just about everything else in between are usually what keeps me from sticking to a strict schedule.

Let’s take Wednesday evening for example. It’s hump day, the week is more than half way over and you can smell the weekend off I the distance so why not partake in some after work cocktails.

I suppose ‘cocktails’ really isn’t the being honest though. I mean after all, I was going to a Yankee game. Who in their right mind orders a ‘cocktail’ while witnessing America’s Past Time? No one, or at least no self respecting straight male.

First pitch was set to be at 7:10 which meant most people were going to try and dart out of the office right around 5 to make sure they had enough time to have a few beers before entering the stadium. Now, what made this Yankee game different from the ones before it, was that it was in Staten Island. Yeah, that’s right Staten Island, NY. Staten Island is the 5th and most often forgotten borough of New York City.

This beautiful Wednesday night my friends and I made our way downtown by way of the 4 train to the most southern stop, then walk to the ferry station to enjoy what would be a truly “only in New York story!”

The Staten Island Yankees are one the New York Yankees minor league teams. That basically means that every single player on the field was younger than me. A trend I’m starting to notice every time I watch a professional sport of any kind…

We made our way to the front of the ferry so as I would get to see every bit of the twenty minute ride from our Island to another. However, before making our way to the bow (I think that’s the proper nautical term) we grabbed beers. The “Snack and Shop,” a lovely little counter of convenience where you could purchase popcorn, peanuts, hot dogs older than me, and of all things, Miller Lite!

With Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty seen off to the right we cruised along with beers in hand, sunglasses still on, and a site straight ahead the looked like a mini baseball stadium. The ride was beautiful and something I suggest all New Yorkers do at least one time. (One time is enough, trust me)

It was a short walk to the stadium where we met another group of friends. Now with a full view of lower Manhattan, more beers, and ball park dogs, I knew this was going to be a great evening.

The game was exciting and extremely entertaining with our mini-yankees scoring 6 runs in the bottom of the 8th inning to hold on to a 7-6 victory over the fierce Brooklyn Cyclones. Post game beers were held at a bar across the stadium with yet another amazing view of the city we now realized we needed to get back to…

The large group of friends that had cheered, yelled, and drank together at the game decided to split up once we made it back to our island. I found myself in a usual position though, the 5th wheel. (once you’ve been the 3rd wheel for so long, being the 5th wheel is like a walk in Central Park)

“Now where?” someone asked. “Beats the hell out of me, I have no idea what’s around this part of the city” was my reply. After all, being near the financial district after 9pm is like being in a very well constructed ghost town.

“How about a strip club/lounge, there’s one just a few blocks away from here,” one of the ladies suggested.

I’m not a huge fan of these types of establishment. I love spending money, don’t get me wrong, but not on clothes I can’t wear, meals I can’t eat…Well you get where I’m going with this!

However, a robust “yeah, that sounds perfect” came from the other two gentlemen, so off we were, off to an experience and a story I will never forget.

After the before mentioned ‘few blocks’ we were there…Now I’m not saying judging a book by it’s cover is a logical thing to do, however judging a strip club by it’s exterior makes perfect sense.

It was not a Scottsdale or Vegas like establishment, it didn’t even look like it belong in New York City. But nonetheless we were standing outside about to enter when we heard, “10 bucks a person!”

“Alright, that was a good idea, oh well, maybe next time” I muttered as the two couples decided to go into the deli next door to get a late night snack. (or so I thought)

I was standing outside, I’m sure sending a drunk text message when my buddy came out of the deli and said, “Come with me right now.”

“No, I’m not hungry, I don’t want anything.”

“Shut up, follow me, you’re not going to believe this, come with me right now!”

“Alright fine, I’ll go.”

As we walked through the deli it looked a like a million other delis in the city…Long glass cases of food on the left, the smell of bacon hanging heavily in the air, and a TV with terribly bad reception playing in the background.

However, the similarities to every other deli stopped just a few feet short of the back door. A back door that in itself looked a bit sketchy. Most people would have probably stopped at this point. Oh no, not use though we kept right on going…

On the other side of this door was a different world. Gone were the bad florescent lights and smell of cold cuts. The title floor had ended on the other side of the door and given way to a beat up wooden floor. The background noise that was the TV on the deli side of the door was now some slow hip hop song.

“Where in the fuck are we” looks were strewn across all of our faces. Did we just end up in a speak easy-like strip club only accessible by walking through a deli? Was this place part of the establishment next door? Was this place legal? Was this place going to be where we die? All valid questions racing through our minds faster than the stripper’s ass bouncing on the crouch of the guy sitting next to us.

I mean, I’ve heard you have to diversify to be successful but this is ridiculous…

“Um, hi yeah. Can I get roast beef on rye with mayo, lettuce, and tomato? Oh, and a lap dance too? Thanks!”

We all continued to laugh, drink, and look around with amazement as it was all too surreal! The lighting was bad, the bar was probably filthy, and the ladies were definitely the C squad…However, the staff was polite, the drinks were cold and cheap, all of which made for another full chapter in the stories of ‘Only in New York.’

I would tell you the rest of the story but you know the rules…What happens in the deli stays in the deli!

Thanks for listening

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


While making the walk home through what felt like the streets of the depths of hell due to the heat and humidity I decided I’d grab a quick bite to eat. There are probably 30 different restaurants along the nine blocks I walk home everyday. On this particular day I decided I was going to go the healthy route.

After all, it’s summer, it’s time to get back to the gym, and more importantly I’ve got another wedding coming up in just a few weeks. I know just as well as the next girl, showing up a bit chubby to a wedding is the fastest way to make sure your name is flying around the table. After all, I feel like the window to say, “I’m still carrying a little holiday weight” has been closed for months now!

With the heat beating down on me, I swung into deli to get a salad. Now that may sound embarrassing to my Alpha Male readers, but here in NYC it’s quite acceptable to eat a salad. The salads are great b/c they make to order with just about everything but the kitchen sink included…They grab the plastic bowl full of clean lettuce and start throwing in what you call out!

Just a few more blocks in this heat and I would be home. I ditched the overly big white bag the salad came in and just kept it under my arm as I was going to try and scarf it down and make it to the gym before 8pm. At this point beads of sweat were rolling down my face and I’m sure it looked like the Bermuda Triangle of Sweat showing through my long sleeve shirt.

Finally I’m at my door and moments away from getting back into some AC and I couldn’t be happier. I stopped a few feet from my door because there is an apartment on the third story who’s AC unit leaks directly in front of the door to the building. And by leaks I mean the drops of water that look like clear water balloons crashing to the ground every 3.5 seconds.

I’ve got my bag thrown over my shoulder, my salad under my arm like it’s a football, all this time I can feel my entire body becoming that much hotter. There’s me, the water, and the door. I started to fumble around my pocket for my keys and then, as is usually the case when you’re in a hurry, seem to have found a black hole in my pocket.

More sweat, more fumbling, and the salad is starting to become very slippery. At this point, I’m elbow deep in my right pocket, fighting lose change to get my damn keys when it happens!

The door starts to open. Yes, perfect, finally! Other than our door weighing as much as a medieval castle drawbridge, I will be inside in just a few seconds. As the door opens the cute girl (or so I guess because I’ve yet to meet her) from the apartment above me, looks up, sees my sweating face, my beady eyes, and my hand going crazy in my right pocket.

She screams at the sight of what I can only imagine looks like some sicko getting his rocks off outside her new apartment building and with a salad no less. As her scream bounces off me, it scares the hell out of me, after all I’m at the point where I think the heat has made me delusional I start to let out a little scream too!

Now I know that’s about as manly as my choice for dinner and maybe that why what happened next was meant to be. With both of us startled and me suffering from heat stroke, my salad goes flying out of my hand, into the air and crashes to the ground, shooting lettuce everywhere. The lid is about a block away and there are small cherry tomatoes floating in the pond-like puddle the AC unit from the third floor has created.

Once our nerves settled and I had a chance to wipe off my forehead everything seemed to be, as I’m sure it did to anyone watching, absolutely hilarious. We both laughed and then introduced ourselves soon there after. As she headed down our block I went up to grab a broom so I could clean up the evidence of my dinner as it lay dead to the world, right outside my doorstep…

Thanks for listening

Monday, June 19, 2006

'Crash' on Aisle Five!

“Wow, a two liter of Pepsi is only 99 cents!” “Are you kidding me look how wide the isles are too!” That’s right I was out if the city for a few days and stopped by one of the pieces American culture I miss so dearly…The Supermarket.

Now, don’t get me wrong we have grocery stores in Manhattan but they are by no means Supermakets! They’d be lucky to be called Averagemarkets. For some reason, lack of space probably being the most important, the grocery stores in this city tend to be small, below ground, crowded, an arm-n-leg expensive, and have the most obnoxiously rude employees.

This thankfully was not the case in Saratoga Springs. (Upstate, New York) After leaving my baby, the city, for ten whole days while gallivanting through Europe, I left her again this weekend. I think I’m becoming a bad parent. Nonetheless, friends of mine from Third and Long decided we would make a mini road trip to see Dave Matthew’s Band perform Saturday night.

We left the city around 11am, bright eyed and bushy tailed to get out of the city as the Weather guys were predicting temperatures in the mid 90’s. If you’ve never been in New York City in the dead of summer it’s like being in a concrete jungle just down the street from the depths of Hell! It’s Hot!

“It smells so fresh and look at the size of the produce sections” said one friend. As we continued to marvel at the size and cleanliness we were the recipients of many a “they’re not from around here stares” as we packed our cart full of tailgating essentials. Chips, check…Beer, check…bright colored drinking straws, check…”Wait, what the hell are these?”

“Oh, come on their cute, and we can use them for the Smirnoff Ice’s” was the quick response from the ladies of the trip. Well, the ladies and our gay friend. As we were going to a concert and not a football game, I let the straws slide. I mean it’s not like they were little straw umbrella’s.

With our cart barely containing our “how to have a good time at a concert” kit we headed for the checkout line. Again, it was clear we were not from those parts as we continued to joke, laugh, and occasionally point out mullets as they came into our oasis. The clerk was nice as she scanned each item, it costing about 1/5th of the cost had we loaded up in the city.

“Ok, the total is $126.54 and we need to see everyone’s ID.” Classic, I love it our ages ranged from 23 to 31 and they needed to see all of our IDs. None of us had a problem with this as we could not get over how cheap our evening was going to be. “Did she forget the beer, is she hooking us up?” All of these questions were whispered back and forth with no real answer found other than Manhattan is damn expensive!

But we love it, and it’s great to be back!

Oh, by the way, the show was great and the weather was perfect! It was an all around great weekend!

Thanks for listening

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Designer Debauchery!

Well I made my way back in one overly exhausted, extremely beat up, and with a smile that could touch both sides of the pond. My trip which I had very few concrete plans set in place before touching down in Shannon, Ireland turned out to be, as I’m sure it is for most, an absolutely amazing experience.

When I touched down in my obnoxiously green painted 767, it was only two feet into Ireland I heard a familiar voice. “Last Name” I heard shouted in my direction. (Now, obviously that’s not what someone yelled or in fact my last name, but if I put my last name you’d know my true identity. I do have nice short and quite unique last name that I have gone by since my Pop Warner days. Somehow my Sir Name, as it was referred to on the Irish Immigration form is still what a lot of people still call me in the office.)

I whipped my head around quickly to find the voice I knew quite well. I was still scraping the eye crunkies out of both eyes as I left NYC at 10pm and arrived at 9am the next morning. “Hey buddy, how the hell are ya? It’s good to see you.” Now I know this sounds like boring small talk for a friend I’ve just seen in a foreign country not more than 15 minutes since my arrival but I work with the guy and had seen him Friday in the office before he left.

No I would hold on too my big hellos for others, new people, old people I hadn’t seen in a while and of course the bride and groom I would see in one week for it’s their wedding that sparked the idea of this life changing trip.

My friend and I met his girlfriend who was traveling with him in a small airport eatery. They had already finish breakfast as they had arrived on the flight before mine by a few hours. We chatted a bit, “how was your flight? “how about the flight attendants outfits? (Outfits that must have been crafted and dyed by the same guy who decided to go with the shamrock / sea foam green exterior paint I noticed every time I glanced out of my window seat)

The three of us were flying to Paris in just a few hours. A trip I had planned, knowing they would be there as well. After all, I figured it would be nice to know at least two faces in a country filled with complete strangers (oh and strangers who are not real big fans of the good old U – S – of A.

Our flight was on RyanAir, the Southwest of Ireland. You know the type, no seat assignments, cheap fares. Oh, and seats that don’t go back, no tray tables and the safety manual highlighting where each exit is located and what it would it look like if there were to be a severe change in cabin pressure. Mind you all of this done by drawings a first year student at Simpson’s University could have done. It is plastered on the seat in front of you because the normal pocket that you normally manage to shove you book, iPod, newspaper, and wrapped up chewed gum (you know you do) into does not exist.

Now I understand keeping costs low so that these cheap fares get butts in these seats, but would it kill them to throw just a bit of comfort into them first? Nonetheless, with their bright and I mean bright blue and yellow plane they touched down in sunny Beauvais airport 5 minutes ahead of schedule. It was a quick process through Customs and then it was onto a bus to Paris. Much like Southwest, RyanAir tends to fly into nice clean little airports just right outside of the big cities. The ride was easy and even gave me a time to see the French country side. Outside of the steering column being on the wrong side (the right side) of the car and the driver driving on the wrong side of the road (the left side) the ride was easy as pie or crème burlee.

I was riding solo on the bus as my friends had arranged a car to pick them up. As we cruised into Paris with the Eiffel Tower in the back drop I got a little lump in my stomach. Unlike the lumps that would soon follow, this one was not due to too many espressos and cigarettes. (I don’t usually smoke, but you know what they say, when in Rome…)

The lump was this, I have no idea where I’m going to sleep tonight, I don’t speak the language and I am loving every minutes of this…it’s true it’s a very similar feeling I had when I first moved to NYC with no job and no place to call home. The feeling can only be something compared to that of an X Games athlete or sky diver. It’s absolutely petrifyingly thrilling.

I had my back pack, a small black roller bag, a shot of espresso and a newly purchased map of the city. Before I left I printed out the last correspondence I had with a girlfriend of mine I was planning on staying with…She gave me the address she thought she might be at, and two numbers she wasn’t sure she was going to be able to access. So with promising leads, what could go wrong, right?

As I continued to order incorrectly, trying desperately to recall vocab and tenses from my sophomore year in French II, I was trying to find the streets and numbers listed on my printed out copy of the all important email on the colorful map that seemed to continue to grow with every flip and fold. As I drank my second espresso, I managed to order some bread and marmalade dish that came with a cup of coffee. Classic I know!

After I almost literally jittered out of my seat I made my way for the Arc de Triomphe where I was hoping to find a Metro station (Thankfully metro means metro in French and English). I would have been quite surprised had I found out that metro translates into ‘place the French beat newly arriving Americans’ but like I said that didn’t happen as it was just like getting on the 6 train out of Grand Central.

One part of me was extremely proud of finding the subway and giving it a try when I had been in the city for little more than two hours at this point. I had managed to find the street that would hopefully be home to this weary traveler and the subway line that would get me there…after all, I live in NYC, we have quite the efficient public transportation system, if I can get my way from the Upper West Side to South Sea Port I can certainly find my way to the 20th Arrondesment.

As luck would have it I made it to the quaint little artist’s loft that my friend was living in for the summer. She (an “only in NYC” story) swapped her Park Slope (a very trendy area in Brooklyn) apartment for the summer with a couple of Paris. The place looked like it was right out of the movie Ghost. There was dried paint all over the hard wood floors, but in a cool way. The sun was shining throughout the entire apartments huge windows and sky lights and right in the middle of the floor were two air mattresses. I was definitely going with the ‘less is more’ mantra on this part of the trip.

As it was about 6pm Saturday night and I had yet to really sleep yet, with the exception of very prolonged blinks on my flight over, we headed out to experience, not see the city. The first café we stopped by was perfect, located on a busy street and the weather was perfect for outside seating.

I should mention that my friend spoke French as she was raised in that big loft above that great party (Canada). That definitely helped as we ordered our first two beers and sat in Parisian sun trying to make a plan for the night. As I asked our server for the “toilet” (I find that a bit obviously and blunt, I’m all for our American “restroom” term. I mean why don’t they just call it the “shitter”?

Once I returned to the table my friend had started chatting out a young guy sitting at the table next to us. As it turns out he was from the exotic place known as Minnesota. And I’m like “are you kidding me, the first person we meet in Paris is from Minnesota?” However, it was nice to get a little inside info from an American that had been there for a week already.

After my friend swapped numbers and email addresses with him, as she would be spending a much longer time in Paris than I would, she thought it would great to have a fellow explorer for the summer. We finished our beers and made our way yet another cute, picturesque street looking for a place to grab dinner.

We came across yet another beautiful restaurant with a huge outdoor patio so of course as it was about 10pm at this point and the sun was finally on its way down, we decided this should be the location for my first Parisian meal. (It was Italian, so I can’t say I made a huge leap out of my normal eating habits).

We drank, ate, took pictures, people watched, laughed, ate some more, drank some more and just simply enjoyed the night. As we started to leave a little after midnight, my friend started chatting up a young gentleman sitting at a table across from us. He was a good looking guy (Hey, I can say that I’m comfortable in my shoes. Although, ironically enough, I wasn’t that night, I didn’t pick the best pair to walk around the entire city of Paris as we soon would.), definitely European but it seemed as though he was with a guy who was obviously gay.

So as I came back from the restroom it looked as though this guy was going to join us for our evening’s adventures and his friend was calling it a night. I will admit I was not thrilled at this junction at first but later it proved to be the right move. His friend who turns out was not gay, was a priest. Classic again, I know.

As we welcomed our third member to the team, his name was Andre we made our way to the Eiffel Tower. It is supposed to be beautiful at night and is was just recently equipped with thousands and thousands of lights that go off every hour on the hour. (A new bell and whistle most of the Parisians are not thrilled with)

We walked along one windy street after another making our way across the city. We could see the enormous structure anytime we were in an area of smaller buildings and it looked as though it was just a few more blocks away, every single time!

Luckily for us, there are just a couple of other things in Paris other than the Eiffel Tower, like the Louvre and the Musee D’Orsay. Now granted these places are usually must sees during the day because of their enormous collections for world renowned art but even in the evening they were amazing. Their size, their structures’ and the detail in which each were built is nothing but sheer brilliance. (I have some amazing pics I hope to post later today)

After we stumbled across the gems we so thankfully saw in the perfect Parisian evening, we finally made our way to the tower we had seen for so long not knowing the distance between us was so great. Very similar to the Washington Monument in, well Washington, DC the Eiffel Tower has a grand lawn that starts at its base and shoots out across the night. It almost seems like if either tower were rested on its side they could simply lay on the lawn like we found ourselves.

We were not the only groups of people experiencing the tower at this point. There were pockets of people every where, drinking their bottles of wine and smoking their cigarettes. Our new found friend turned out to be a great guy. He was from Corsica, an island off the south of France. (It sounds cool just saying that) He spoke very good English and really enjoyed speaking it, as it doesn’t get to do it too often.

As were continued to chat, debate, and probably laugh more than anything, we were approached by a couple of Parisian thugs. (It sounds funny just saying that) There were two of them, a smaller one, and a medium size one. The wanted some of our wine, they were very insistent on that, they were speaking French and even I could tell that…I was not scared or too worried as the smaller one was wearing a D&G belt. Nonetheless it’s not the most ideal situation you want to find yourself in while spending your first night in a foreign country.

As our two little locals continued to insist on trying our delightfully tasteful and nearly empty bottle of wine, Andre had had enough. He got to his feet (this is probably a good time to mention that Andre was built like a…how you say en Francias…a brick shithouse! This again may be a reason I was not too worried that this situation would escalate.

As he and the little one continued to argue and clearly smell each other’s breath as they were standing face to face I decided I would try and talk to the other one, should he speak English that is…well, he didn’t so we didn’t really have much to say to each other. However what he did say, and I fully understood it was a loud whistle which in all languages means hey was calling another buddy.

Ok, now at this point I may have started to get a little heated. I blame it on the red wine but I’ll let you think what you want. As the third now arrived he turned out to be an Andre too. However, of the Giant variety!

I once again reached out to play the role of Switzerland, but to no avail, no parle pas Anglais! “Shit, doesn’t anyone in the fucking country speak English!”

I, mostly because of the language barrier was unable to decided what was said or wasn’t said but luckily nothing much came of the scuffle in front of the Eiffel. Thankfully so, thankfully so…

It was about 5am Sunday morning and I was starting to feel a bit tired as I hadn’t slept yet so we rolled back into our humble abode. What a fucking night! And it was only the first of ten!

And on a completely unrelated note it turns out April is fake! I don’t mean she wasn’t as nice as she seemed or said one thing and meant another, I mean I made her up. It was my first attempt at fiction and I hope you enjoyed it. I certainly did! And although her appearance or personal qualities may be fiction, I would only be so lucky to find her in the Non Fiction section of New York City sooner rather than later!

Thanks for listening

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

I'm Back Baby!

Well sort of...My trip to Europe was absolutely perfect!!! I wrote a lot and will be posting it tonight. I will also give you the latest on the new girl...Thanks for coming back, you all make this worth writing...!

Thanks for listening

Thursday, June 1, 2006

Don Juan O'Donnell

Around 7pm we both started to look around and notice that people were starting to pack up. Blankets were being shaken out, plastic wine glasses were being poured empty and here I am thinking, “everyone stop, stop right now, where are you going, sit back down!” After all, why on earth would I want to any bit of this to stop?

“Do you want to go grab a drink somewhere?” I said it, I mean it came out of my mouth and I would not have been more surprised if two turtle doves came out as well because I had no idea where that line came from…After all, this is a big city, it’s not a movie, and I’ve known this girl for all of 2 hours, why not ask that question?

“Um, yeah sure why not.” Well as surprised as I was when the line came out I was even more surprised when that line came flying across the park. She had mentioned earlier that she lives on the Upper West Side, which I would normally say is very GU (Geographically Undesirable) but I’d be a moron to use having to use three different subway lines to get to the UWS as an excuse at this point. “Why don’t we just start walking west until we find some we like?” Her being new to the neighborhood and me not knowing the UWS every well at all it was the best I could offer. I mean I played in a pool league on the UWS but a pool hall didn’t seem like the ideal spot for a day like today!

We finally found little Irish pub on 76th and Amsterdam that looked just perfect. It wasn’t your usual dark, dreary, ‘we only serve Guinness’ kind of pub, it even had outdoor seating. She actually saw it first and called it out as a suggestion and I could have been happier.

At this point she had tossed on a wife beater over the bathing suit top although it didn’t have that Hanes look to it. I’m assuming it was a wife beater of the fancy variety. Nonetheless, it looked great!

We were thankfully seated at a great table that still had the sun shining on it. I love summer and the marathon like days of sunlight. It was almost 8 and the sun was still out, but starting to fade slowly.

It gets better…but I gotta run…will finish later today though!

Thanks for listening