Monday, November 11, 2013

How I Ditched the Boys and Went to NYC

So, last week I got a kitchen pass from the Diplomat to go to NYC for a concert of the best of the best of the old Bulgarian rock bands. I knew it was going to be amazing and all week had been trembling with excitement that I will see them (some of you don’t know that, and those of you who know me, don’t believe it, but I was an ardent hippie in my teen years and so rock was a religion back then and concerts were what we lived for). I bought a ticket on the Megabus (a double decker cheap bus that promised to take me from DC to NY in 4 hours) and began planning my trip.
Now, some will remember that the Diplomat and I bought a very centrally-located studio apartment in Manhattan over the summer, which was just renovated and cleaned and was being shown to renters. The problem was that the place was not furnished, and while the kitchen and the bathroom glistened with new paint and tiles, there was nothing else inside. I emailed a few friends in whose houses I had not already crashes during prior visits, and they generously offered couches and kids’ bedrooms. I realized, however, that I would likely come back from the concert rather late and so it might be rude to bother friends. So, the Diplomat offered to buy me an inflatable mattress (which he did, the dear, at 9 pm the night before I left) and I decided to slum it in our place. I packed the newly acquired mattress which had a pump included, Son’s giant Superman blanket, a roll of toilet paper, some makeup and my tightest jeans, and off I went on the 2.30 pm Megabus to NYC o a sunny Friday. The bus was supposed to arrive in mid-town Manhattan at 7 pm and the concert would start at 8 in Queens. I planned to get a taxi, leave my things in the apartment, spruce up to become a good-looking wild groupie and hop on the N train to Astoria with a friend from highschool.
I got a nice seat on the top floor of the bus, and spent the next 2 hours reading a book. At that point it struck me that we were not exactly moving at the speed of light, and according to the GPS in my cell phone, we would reach NYC at 7.30 pm at the earliest. Undaunted, I figured that I would be a bit late but then likely the concert wouldn’t start on time anyway so I returned to my book. A couple of times the driver, a stern lady, asked someone to turn off his phone as its glare was reflecting on the front window shield and was bothering her. I did not think much of that until I went downstairs to the bathroom and overheard a heated argument, accompanied by some peppery expletives, exchanged between the cool lady driver and a somewhat aggressive and clearly irked passenger. I went back upstairs and wondered what that was all about. Well, five minutes later, and the bus pulled over in the emergency lane. Apparently, the driver lady was trying to toss the offensive passenger with the bright phone off the bus. The time – 7 pm. I threw in a quick prayer for prompt resolution and began staring forlornly through the window at the Empire State Building, glistening just across the New Jersey turnpike, as if mocking me. So close and yet so far. 20 mins later and with absolutely no development, I started to get angry. I am going to NY only for this concert and I am about to miss it because some loser did not want to turn his stupid IPhone off. Apparently, I was not the only one to think so. I noticed that the 20-something guy in front of me was violently texting on his IPhone to someone things like, “Fuck! My life is so fucked. I am so fucked!!” I mean, the delay was irritating but perhaps THAT was a little overdramatic, it seemed to me.
Next thing you know, the police showed up. The POLICE, people! That led to another 20 mins of discussions. Next thing you know, the tall bulky angry phone dude is escorted by the cop to the second floor of the bus and where do you think he sits? That’s right – next to me. He spent the next 5 mins saying very violent things and some expletives to a friend on his phone, underscoring the fact that he is not a child, he has paid an entire $18 to be taken to 38th street in Manhattan and who is that ***** to tell him when and where and how to play with his phone. The time – 7.45 pm. I wondered if this was God’s way of punishing me for ditching the boys home to gallivant in Manhattan for a weekend. Then another Megabus pulled over, the cop scooped up the irritated fella with phone issues, put him on the other bus, and in about 10 mins we finally moved. We arrived a shocking 15 mins later. There was still hope! As luck would have it, my highschool friend who was supposed to wait for me at the drop off point could not get on the subway and so had to take a bus downtown. Clearly freaking out that she is making me even more late, the poor thing ran like a mad woman out of the bus to meet me. The time – 8.30 pm. We hopped into a cab and by 9 pm were inside the concert hall screaming delightedly with each song, my luggage happily stowed away in the cloak room. Needless to say, I did not change into my hot outfit and looked, ahem, a bit underwhelming. Otherwise, the concert rocked!
At 11 pm, we all went to the designated after-concert bar and waited for the musicians to show up. I kept drinking cheap wine and realizing that the slice of pizza I had while I waited for my friend mid-town is beginning to wear off despite its gigantic size. But then the musicians came in, and we all got frenetic trying to take pictures with them. Around 1.30, exhausted but happy, my friend and I piled into a car of some random friends we met and they dropped me on the East Side, close to my apartment, around 2 am. Another short cab ride, and I was finally safely home, rather exhausted.
I pulled out the queen-sized inflatable mattress and the pump that went with it, connected the two and pressed “on.” Nothing happened. Slightly suspicious, I opened the pump and stared in silent horror at the empty space where 4 D-size batteries should have been. It was 2.30 am, and I was dead tired in the middle of a fancy, completely empty studio apartment in Manhattan. I had two choices – roam the streets hoping to find a 24/7 store that sold batteries or to blow. I chose to blow – I could barely walk by then.
And so my blowing ordeal began – do you know how long it takes to manually inflate a queen-sized mattress, factoring in break times so that you don’t pass out from lack of oxygen and also factoring in slight inebriation? An hour. That’s how long. At some point, it occurred to me to try and hold the mouth of the mattress on top of the heating since it was on and was blowing air full force. I am not sure what impact that had, but I suspect it actually allowed some precious air I had blown in to actually escape, thus making it worse. While doing this, I realized that all that blowing had made me severely hungry. I quickly researched take-out places in the hood, and since it was 3 am already, my only bet was Domino’s Pizza. Which I love! So, no brainer! I quickly ordered pizza online (God bless my phone) and continued to blow air into the damn cavernous mattress in intervals. Finally done around 3.45 am, I plopped myself on it and settled in to watch the latest episode of Grey’s Anatomy online while waiting for my delicious nocturnal pizza. Then I got a call from the doorman, who sounded genuinely puzzled and asked me whether it was possible that I had ordered pizza. Why yes, I answered gaily, and pranced downstairs in my satin PJs to collect it. I smiled brightly at the doorman and as I was leaving, he said, quite apropos, “Oh, m’am, we don’t have your number here in our records.” I was puzzled so decided to ask, despite the pleasantly wafting pizza and my desire to run upstairs as fast as possible, “So, how did you call me if you don’t have my number?” “Oh,” he said innocently, “I called the number on record for your apartment, which turned out to be your husband but he seems to be in Washington, DC so he gave me your number.”
So, as you can imagine, the poor doorman had called the Diplomat at 3.45 in the morning, deeply asleep in his comfy bed in DC, with the good news that his pizza had arrived. What pizza?? asked the incredulous and utterly asleep Diplomat. You can figure out the rest. I expected to get a quizzical phone call and was ready with my apologies, but I guess he was too sleepy to make the effort. I spent the next 50 minutes happily devouring the pizza and watching the show on my phone. I got up at 11 am the next day. Man, there are times when I really envy single people and winder what in the world do they do with all of their free time.
The next day I had a delicious birthday dinner with a good friend and then headed over to have drinks with another in Tribeca. In the spirit of this confused weekend, the evening went off with a few hitches. Apparently, after a martini and some wine, I did not pay much attention to the direction I was taking the subway to meet my friend (who was coming in from Brooklyn), and ironically ended up in Brooklyn myself. The time – 11.30 pm. More and more frustrated, I navigated the ginormous subway station and managed to get myself back into the city in about 20 mins. Rather than risk more confusion, I got off and decided to walk to the bar, which, my friend said, was on Duane Street. In confusion that only New Yorkers would understand, I misunderstood and instead ended up on Reade Street. There was no bar in sight. I was ready to just board the bus and go back to DC. Luckily, the bar happened to be just around the corner and I soon got there. After a few drinks, I headed home by cab (to make sure I don’t end up in Jersey or the Bronx or something, the way things were going). Clearly, the cabbie had to be Bulgarian and for the duration of the ride, I was questioned on my immigration history, lectured on the current crappy state of affairs in Bulgaria and bestowed with vastly unamusing tidbits of the cabbie's life story.
The next day I went to Brooklyn to have brunch with yet another friend. I was to take the 3 pm bus back to DC. We lunched leisurely, and when I was beginning to get nervous about going back to catch the Megabus, she assured me that if I took the A train, it would put me just a block away. Plus, it was a fast train, so I needed really about 30 mins or so. What my friend did not realize was that the A train had a different schedule on the weekends and did not stop where she thought it did. Not even close. Actually, kind of far. At the end of my rope, I ended up walking 8 very long NYC blocks to where the Megabus was parked. The last 3 blocks I ran in high-heeled boots, dragging a suitcase behind, sweating profusely in the warm autumnal afternoon. I made it with 13 seconds to spare. The moment I went inside, the bus closed the doors and we took off. 4 hours on the dot, I was back in DC.

It was a great, albeit very confused and maddening weekend. I should do it again some time soon.