Thursday, March 20, 2008

Tina's trials and travels

This weekend, Tina - one of my best high school friends (and faithful blog reader) – came to visit me. My glorious meticulously planned schedule got started off wrong when her plane was delayed 4 hours. Evidently her plane was a tiny one, and due to high winds, they only allowed a certain number of them to fly into the airport. Honestly, I would be more worried about a large plane drifting about in heavy winds. Anyway, the poor girl had to spend that time in the Omaha airport which is about five gates! Yeah, the terminal hosts a Hudson News and Kiosk snack bar. I guess you could kill time walking all 50 feet of the airport.

The following day, I took her on the standard tour of lower Manhattan which includes the sights of Statue of Liberty, Wall Street, Trinity Church, Ground Zero, City Hall, and a dozen other buildings that I have no idea what they are. As if we didn’t do enough walking already, we ventured across the Brooklyn Bridge. Now I love walking on the bridge because it gives you great views of the city and a sense of power. Well Tina killed the experience for me! Seriously, we were walking and she said something of the sort “aren’t you scared, I mean we are just walking on small planks of wood, they are not even spaced close together, you can see the ground below, etc”. Yeah, I looked down and saw the river a good 200 feet below me. From then on, I OCD walked on the sturdiest looking boards. Damn you Tina!

We headed over to the famed pizza place in Brooklyn just under the bridge. Now I have visited this place a couple of times before and have been sourly denied by an hour plus line. I decided 2:30pm on a Thursday would be a random enough time to eat and therefore avoid a line wrapped around the block. Although random, we still had to endure a 5 minute line. The pizza did not disappoint, but a word to the wise, don’t eat the leftovers because it is not nearly as good.

Although we saw plenty of odd street performers and locals, the strangest sight was a dozen slot machines perched on the Brooklyn east river promenade. Yeah they practically followed us around. There was a camera crew there as well, so I don’t know if it was some sort of casino commercial or what.

The next day, we punished our legs more by walking the Midtown tour. On our way through Central Park, we were stopped by some burly police officers. Evidently President Bush was in town speaking, and this was his escape route. I personally think he just wanted to see the park. Anyway, thankfully there were plenty of armed surly officers around because I was about to beat down a group of annoying teenage tourists. Five minutes turned into fifteen. His tardiness did not improve my opinion of him. Finally he drove by, and Tina and I snapped pictures of his limo. I turned to her and said “I only got the front half” and she was like “perfect since I only got the back half”. Together I guess we will have one complete photo. I personally was interested in the dozen or so black suv’s that followed his car with the rear window taken out so you can see the black suited bad asses.

We were given discount coupons for “top of the rock” viewing deck and that was enough to sway us. It was a gloriously fabulous day! Seriously, the weather was befitting the use of every flamboyantly gay adjective imaginable! Just to die for. No wind, upper 50’s, not too sunny. Ahhhhh.

Other highlights include riding the carousel in Bryant Park. The ticket Nazis would not let us ride an extra turn even though there was absolutely no one else on the thing! Oh and Tina found a taste for street vender food and had two hot dogs! Sure it is healthy-ish. Plus she needed the calories to make up for the excessive walking I forced her to do. Seriously, we walked EVERYWHERE! I know from experience, in Nebraska the only walking you do is to your car in the parking lot. Plus most people (my parents are the worst offenders) will circle the parking lot looking for the choice spot that will save them from walking an additional 20 feet!

We were able to get tickets to the Broadway musical The Phantom of the Opera. I have always wanted to catch this classic. We were in box seats really close to the stage. The only draw backs were that we missed out on the action happening in the very back left stage corner and that my eyebrows almost got singed off by the pyrotechnics. The theatre was uses as an integral prop to the play, and I couldn’t help being a 14 year old boy about the racy decorations. Seriously, the gold lady is really enjoying the boob grab.

Now although New York City offers so many historic and monumental sights, most of my guests come to the city for one reason….fake purses! Yeah, forget the Statue of Freaking Liberty, and give me a Gucci! Tina was timid at first when we had to follow a small Asian man five blocks to a basement backroom. She literally was walking 10 feet behind me and every time I looked back, she would shoot me a “oh my God, he is going to kill us or enslave us in some sort of human trafficking slavery sweatshop ring” look. I thought for sure she was going to split when we finally got to the rusty dark door at the bottom of the narrow stairs, but her fears were eased when a group of sweatshirt and turtle neck wearing Midwestern women tourists emerged with the tell tale inconspicuous black garbage bags. There was an obvious lack of policemen out because the normally whisper prone back room people were all out shouting advertisements and displaying their wide open back room door. I think we hit close to 20 back rooms if not more. My favorite was when this blonde teenager in an ill fitting “hottie” t-shirt insulted a backroom Madam by saying “okay, I have two Chanel purses and a wallet, I give you $40”. The Madam shouted no to her and snatched the bag away from the stupid girl. Ah ha ha ha. Oh another time, a woman from Kentucky came into the room and started grabbing handfuls of bags. She then said to the backroom man in a condescending ignorant tourist way “you understand, you take my order, you ship to me, give me good deal”. You could totally tell it was kid who grew up in the states and was like whatever lady, do you want me to pull out some chopsticks too. Anyway, she literally had a huge pile of 50 or 60 purses over in the corner and they were the tackiest most obnoxious looking bags in the whole place. I mentioned to a fellow shopper that they were ugly, and she said “well, everyone has their own taste…no matter how bad”. Ah ha ha ha. I was curious, so I asked why the Kentucky was buying so many purses. She tried to explain to me that she has a shop in her home town and that she provides merchandise to other shops. Okay, I bet she is going to try to pass them off as real purses. Shady!


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