Maybe rats and other creepy crawlies come to mind when thinking of the underground world of New York City. You take the subway? You’ve probably seen a rat. In fact, you take the subway, you’ve probably seen some things. Lots of things. Anyway, this is not about subways. This is about what’s underground in NYC, and if you go to the old St. Patrick’s Cathedral, you’ll find catacombs. You can tour them by candlelight, and you can keep the candle and keep lighting it as long as the battery has juice because it’s not a real candle because there was already a fire there once, so the non-fire candle is a safer way to take a tour.
Tommy of Tommy’s New York came into the air conditioned holding room across from the church to say hello and explain that the tour is so popular that he splits up the groups and has two guides go in opposite directions. It seems that everyone wants to see a catacomb by candlelight. What you may not be expecting is that in addition to catacombs, the tour goes through a church and through the cemetery grounds and you get a tour guide who has a tiny projector to show you neat pictures of people who were buried. You learn gossipy history. You learn stuff while underground holding a candle!
Things we learned (oh! “we” refers to my officemates and me):
- People used to bury their loved ones in the catacombs and then go into the catacombs to pray because the catacombs were kept open.
- People learned that open catacombs could start to smell, so the catacombs were sealed and reopened and sealed and reopened.
- Exit signs glow in the eeriest way underground.
- The Ancient Order of the Hibernians protected old St. Patrick’s so no one could set fire to it, and the wall surrounding the cemetery is a fortified wall.
- I cannot spell cemetery correctly on the first try. I keep writing cemetary. I’m a teacher.
- The Italian family that started Italian restaurants in NYC is buried there.
- There’s a crypt that was left unlocked which means it’s accessible and no one has come back to lock it and it’s got Edison light bulbs in it along with some very expensive marble and tile because, although you can’t take it with you, you can for dang sure come close.
- Boss Tweed came up, and it was super interesting, and I can’t remember any of it (grief fog!), but I do remember that two guys who didn’t like each other very much are buried next to each other.
- Getting buried there is way expensive.
- I would not want the job of cranking the wheel to make the Erben Organ make sound.
- Sheep need a vacation.
After the grand tour, we got coupons to places to eat nearby! Though we didn’t use the coupons, we did head over to Rice to Riches for rice pudding. The signage alone overwhelmed me. I had to order at a counter–one of my top non-favorite things to do in life–and there were vats of pudding to choose from and then more signs. Worth it. I finished almost all of my pudding before realizing that my insides might try to climb out from the effects of eating so far out of the norm. However, a bowl of Be My Banana Coconut is simply irresistible and worth anything that could possibly happen as aftermath–and nothing happened so I clearly make good choices.
Like I joined Entertainment Weekly’s panel and got invited to the Crosby Hotel for a preview of the second season pilot of Mr. Mercedes. It’s a show on the Audience Network through AT&T Direct Now. That means I cannot watch the show at home, but it sure was thrilling. After the viewing, there was a Q&A with three main cast members and a producer: Brendon Gleeson, Holly Gibney, Holland Taylor, and Jack Bender. Thrilling again! I was especially gleeful to see Holland Taylor. Don’t ask me why. I simply got giddy. She’s so elegant!
Let’s add this all up, okay? Three things in one day. This might go down in history as the day I did the most things ever. And also a day when I learned I can eat a vat of rice pudding, watch one episode of a show I’ll likely not see again, AND tour the underground of NYC without bumping into a rat. A good day, right there.