Sugar Iron Anniversary

Eddie gave me a box of those snap things that you throw on the ground that pop and party poppers, the plastic things you pull to make noise, for our anniversary. In turn, I gave him a candy-filled plastic tube with a monkey on top that plays the cymbals if you press down on a banana. Sugar and iron aren’t the best gift ideas for six years.

A great idea, however, is to take advantage of a Hilton Grand Vacations offer to stay in Manhattan for the weekend half price if we agree to sit through their tour about buying a vacation for life. No biggie. I can sit there and say no a lot. Done and done.

As soon as we got into the city, I saw Tesla, who also appeared on tv later that evening. He’s everywhere.

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We arrived and stood on the Hilton Honors check in line which is supposed to be a perk but always winds up taking longer than the regular line. Plus, on a Friday afternoon, there were three people behind the counter in total. On a Friday. When people arrive for vacation. And then I realized I wasn’t going to get a cookie because it wasn’t a Double Tree. Dammit. Still, the wait wasn’t too bad and the guy kindly directed us to the counter across the lobby to ask about where to go to see the tour.

Across the lobby, the Hilton Grand guy told me that it’s a presentation. Every email I have and every person I spoke to called it a tour, and now it’s a presentation. Fine. Then he said that the email should have told me where it is. I received five emails, none of which told me. I told him I was asking because the email didn’t say. He said, it’s on the 45th floor, no worries. Okay, no worries then. Clearly, it’s easy to find the top floor for the not-tour presentation.

Because we did the package thing, we were given a room instead of my choosing a room. The room was nice, of course, but there was no fridge and no coffee maker. This seems like a very nitpicky thing, but I’m a snack person and a tea person and I like to keep cold water and fruit in the fridge and make tea in the coffee maker and then sometimes make coffee too.

We headed out to eat at a place called Burger Heaven. It was an oddly shaped diner. The food was fine. We found some sugar and some iron. Then we headed out to see the world.

Public art is free! We found a large concrete living room complete with pigeon pets. We found LOVE. We found HOPE. We found 6 1/2 Ave, which is not public art but is kitschy, which is for me.

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Best Photobomb

Then we went to Madison Square Park to see an art installation that included dancing. We didn’t realize it included dancing until we saw slow-moving people in the middle of the park. It was slow motion movement but also dance and it was kind of fascinating. (The performers are in the solid colored shirts beyond the red arch.)

We saw basically everything I’d planned to see in the first few hours of our weekend. Because I’m a maniac. Eddie started pointing out all the free art we could see from simply walking down the street.

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We’re not sure if this man was copying the statue on purpose.

Because we’d walked pretty far downtown from the hotel, and because I found that the Morgan Library had exhibits we could see for free that would be of some interest, we decided to hang around outside of the library until we were let in. In the lobby, they corralled us until it was exactly the second free entry opened up. We walked to the special exhibit hall first, taking a look at portraits of Henry James and notebooks of Thoreau. Eddie preferred Thoreau. I did, too. You see one portrait of James, you pretty much have seen them all.

Then on the way back, we met friends.

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I know it’s summer. However, I couldn’t warm up once we were back in our room, so this happened.

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Eddie asked me more than several times if I was sick, if I was okay, and what was wrong with me. This is love.

The next day, as soon as Eddie opened his eyes, I dragged him to the window. I’d somehow missed seeing our grand view when I’d first looked out the window.

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We could see the LOVE statue! Fridge and coffee maker be damned. This was the best room ever!

Soon after, we went to breakfast at Astro Diner down the street. They have a whole menu devoted to Greek Yogurt. I got eggs instead, but the yogurt creations were quite tempting. Then it was onto experience Summer Streets, when the city closes down Park Ave so that riders, runners, skaters, scooterers, and walkers can do those things in the street without being hit by a car, and vendors can vend things. But first, we found Lever House, which is a building I’ve wanted to see for a really long time. It’s an office building, but the first floor always has an art exhibit. This exhibit wasn’t one I’d particularly wanted to see, but I was happy I’d finally found the building itself. The guard was like, You can sit on those if you want. We were like, thanks, but then moved further away. They seemed germy.

Now, onto Summer Streets! Being that we had walked a lot the day before, I was moving much more slowly, which isn’t the best situation to be in when you want to cross Park Ave amid hundreds of cyclists. We stuck with one side first, opting to go to the tents where they were giving away free stuff. My first free thing was an I Love NY sticker. We waited on line to spin a wheel and win something from a booth about the Greenbelt, but there were two kids there hogging the thing so we gave up. (Kids. Seriously. As if they’re the only ones allowed to have the fun). We made our way to the I Love NY booth where we got more stickers and a bag and a map and even more stickers. I was in free stuff heaven. I also got a bike map and glow in the dark don’t run me over tag for my brother for riding.

We crossed the street and found a Botanical Gardens booth where they gave me a rosemary plant seedling. (It lasted a week in my care. This is a triumph, a sad sad triumph). Then we found drummers. They danced and drummed non-stop. Just when we thought it would be over, it kept going. We were mesmerized. A woman was grabbing people to dance. I wanted to dance but was not walking right at that point so dancing seemed to be not the thing to do. Instead, we found some steps to sit on next to a fountain. Fact: children love fountains. Fact: parents are dumb because they let their children run towards the fountain by themselves and let them stay there by themselves as if the water in the fountain cannot cause drowning and children can’t be injured by falling into the concrete basin because it’s a damn pretty fountain and children are so darn cute. Moved by this rush of fountain-love, we took photos of ourselves as well.

Then it was time for the not-tour-presentation somewhere in the large hotel. We asked again at the Hilton Grand counter. The person behind the counter had to pause what she was doing with the people in front of us because it seemed very confusing to give us directions for how to get to the 45th floor, which by the way was not a simple task. When we found the mini elevator to take us there (after several housekeepers directed us without our having to ask) the people who had been at the counter piled into the elevator with us. The elevator was maybe the size of a dumb waiter, so we were crammed and uncomfortable. Thankfully, it was only one floor and then we could see the entire city through the huge windows. There was free food, too. I got cheese and grapes and tea. Eddie got a Coke.

After maybe ten minutes and us thinking we could skip out, one of the sales guys came over to us and so it began. We’d seen other sales people being really aggressive, and I told Eddie that if anyone started talking in my face like one guy was doing to another couple, I was going to walk away without saying anything. Thankfully, this guy was a self-proclaimed non-aggressive type. He was a pretty good salesperson but kept saying that if the product wasn’t for us, he’d tell us. Turns out, the product was for us.

What’s the product? It’s hard to describe. You’re buying a deed to property, but not an actual place, though it is in a building. You’re buying points for a lifetime. You’re also buying a maintenance fee for a lifetime. You’re buying a vacation forever. It’s like buying a house without seeing it first and on a whim.

Because we travel once a year, this was for us. Because we are already Hilton Honors members, this was for us. Because we have no children and don’t see any reason to stop taking one trip a year in the future, this was for us.

The cost never came up until we were deep in the not-tour-presentation on the secret 45th floor after seeing slideshows and talking about Long Island and the stock market and mortgages and some more Long Island (the sales guy was from Long Island and we chatted more about not the product than the actual product and it was like hanging out with some guy we’d met once before and happened to run into again–it was bizarre). We also talked about sports, yoga, his back problems, my hip problems, Eddie’s job, and a lot of very not relevant things all the way up to the time of the price sheet. The guy who I guess was in charge came over and gave us a number and then more numbers and then deals and more deals. We would be buying like so many points they could last a lifetime plus the life time points we were getting for buying anyway. It got so convoluted and I got so deep into it and it was like teetering on the edge of buying into the not-tour-presentation until they both walked away and I was like, Hold. The F. Up.

They kept saying how our vacations were practically paid for by buying into the program. You know what we were buying? Abstract property. So that would be a place to stay, but what about getting there and back? What about eating? What about fun things to do? I’m sure there were some perks, but this was not a full vacation they were selling. Plus, there’s a monthly fee for the rest of your life. I get that we would be saving some money in the long run on hotels, but that’s the perk? A 5 star hotel that I would be sleeping in during my vacation when I’m mostly out? Okay, okay, if we stayed at a resort, we’d be in, not out, but still. This was crazytown. Plus, when you have to keep asking each other, What exactly are we buying, it’s totally not a good deal.

Three hours later.

Yes, three hours later, we were able to leave with the guy in charge being very disappointed in us. Seriously, he dead in the eye told me, You’re making the wrong decision. I dead in the eye told him, Back off, bucko, and nudged him in the shoulder.

Well, that’s what I did in my mind. Out loud, I ignored the comment and said, Thank you soooo much for your time!

Wiped out, we decided to take the $100 restaurant voucher we’d gotten for sitting through the not-tour-presentation to sit down to a nice meal at the NYY Steakhouse. Score! (oh, jeez, that pun was not on purpose). We got enough food to equal up to the voucher, including a brownie dessert that came with long spoons that we didn’t understand until the dessert came out not on a plate but in a long glass. They also gave me a giant spoon for my coffee, the server actually saying as he put it down, Apologies for this incredibly large spoon but apparently all the smaller ones are being cleaned. Ha! He was a great server.

We walked over to the AMC to see Spider-Man afterwards. As we were buying our tickets, it was sold out. Literally, the seats disappeared as we were choosing seats on the screen. We grabbed a cab to take back to the hotel to avoid any impending storm.

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New York bagels for breakfast was the plan. The Sunday morning streets were pretty empty so walking to the deli was delightful, especially since I could move without dragging my leg. Improvement! We got back to the room with our toasty bagels, and the door wouldn’t open. The lock wouldn’t light up. I figured since it was check out day, maybe the keys weren’t working. I used the phone near the elevator to call down to the front desk, and they sent up security.

The guard asked for my ID first–thank you for being good at your job, sir–and then tried to open the door. He said he had to call for the master metal key because the batteries were dead, and the locksmith wouldn’t get there until 10 AM. While we waited, we heard about his time in the military. He was a pretty cool guy. He called to check up on the guy with the key who was somewhere in the hotel doing another job until he understood that the key was needed immediately since we were in the hallway. He appeared in a minute to let us in, and they left promising us vouchers for breakfast.

We ate our bagels we’d already bought and packed up to go. I found the vouchers for breakfast under our door. They were worth $30 each. I wasn’t about to let this opportunity go to waste, so when we got down to the lobby, I asked the person at the buffet if I could simply get coffee and a Coke, explaining to her why I had the vouchers. She offered to re-date them for the next day, and I said we were checking out. She then took me over to one of the servers and told him to get me a decaf and a Coke to go. And he did. A $30 decaf and a $30 soda. Boom.

It was time to go home, ice my old lady joints, and to nap away the Hilton Grand experience. Sugar and iron and pretty city things, that’s what anniversaries are made of.

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Daytripping With Tesla

My brother and I are both teachers, so we have summers “off.” Those quotation marks mean we are not working in the normal sense; however, if writing syllabi and reading for the Fall are not working, then syllabi-writing is somehow a hobby that I can’t stop doing, not for the fun of it but for the mandatory necessity of it. (Full disclosure: the Virgo in me loves writing syllabi because I get to plan things. Planning!)

The “off” also refers to the ability to gallivant across the tri-state area to see things we live near yet have never seen before. On the list for the first jaunt (bum leg and all) were a memorial, a bull, and a tiny village of shops and artsy things within Stonybrook. Some of these things were demapped. My brother must have said this word maybe 52 times. Also, we found Tesla. Like, the guy, not the car. But also, the car.

First stop: an apparently demapped Vietnam memorial in Bald Hill. Or, if not demapped, then not easy to find on a map. The GPS took us to in and around the area of the memorial. We could see it rise above the trees along the road. However, we were on the opposite side of the road near the Pennysaver Amphitheatre, which was closed but had an open gate. We rolled in and rolled out. Then I suggested parking in the tiny park next to it and walking back over.

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My brother taking pictures of the top of the memorial from all the way across the road and the trees.

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And this is how much of it we could see.

As we walked uphill towards the open gate that said they were closed, a tiny car with a large cigar-smoking, 7-11 coffee-drinking man rolled up behind us and shout-asked: You lookin for somebody?

We were like, no, something–the memorial.

After starting to say it was way deep into beyond the gates, it dawned on him what we were talking about and he was like, Oh you guys gotta go back to how you came in and then take the next exit off ’cause this whole area is Bald Hill.

I was like, Yeah, the map said we should go here.

He was like, Yeah, it’s a good thing I found you because you woulda got lost back there and you have no water. He chuckled. We thanked him.

We made our way back to find the next exit and my brother was like, That guy needs a name. At the same time we automatically said, Vinnie. He was totally a Vinnie.

Thanks to Vinnie, we found the memorial. It was a weird exit because the memorial is located in a park in the middle of a highway. It’s quite breath-taking, literally and figuratively. It’s on a hill [hence, Bald Hill], and it’s simply stark in its simplicity and tribute.

 

Side note: several times, my brother asked me if I could keep walking and if I’d be able to get up the hill. Boys sometimes notice things. I made it up the hill all right and back down, much more slowly than usual, of course.

Second stop: The bull statue in Smithtown is in the middle of a very busy road. At first, we couldn’t find it, so my brother kept asking, When do we give up? I was like, Never. So on we drove until he was like, There it is! It’s hard to miss. First we turned before it and realized we couldn’t pull over. Then we backtracked and I told him to turn into the bike path that also indicated parking. He was like, No because we can’t get out then. I was like, but the big gardening truck is there and it has to get out somehow, pointing at the gardening truck that we would be parking behind. We drove under the overpass and I was like, Pull into the urgent care. He was like, it’s private parking. I was like, there are enough spaces in there so other people can park so we won’t be blocking any urgency. He parked.

We walked over to the bull. It’s pretty large and anatomically correct.

 

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He was like, I’m not sure I got its head in. Thanks, bro. Then again, I did accidentally photobomb his picture (see above).

Third stop: Stonybrook to see a bunch of things that are all in one spot. The neat thing about his wanting to see things is that they crossed over with a bunch of lists I have about the best tea and coffee and oddities across the land. We found a very fancy post office, Hercules, an old boat, pretty water, and the Grist Mill which was closed. I walked around it to see if we could get better photos of the water wheel but my brother was like, this is a private road, and I was like, It’s not like I have a car. Then we couldn’t get around the mill anyway so we headed back.

 

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In honor of Hercules, we look Herculean here.

Two girls arrived behind us and were taking pictures so I offered to take one of them together. They declined just as me and one of them at the same time noticed that we both had Gatsby bags. They’d dropped off books at the little library near the tea shop and I was like, I wished I had books with me to leave. Apparently, it was their second time there, so they knew to bring the books. I know for next time, but I don’t think I’ll be going back any time soon because it’s quite a drive and I’ve got other places to see. (Also, we didn’t ask them to take our picture and they didn’t offer, so the only one I have is the one I took by leaning my phone against a tiny tree stump).

Starved, we ate at Crazy Beans. They have a Crazy Ruben and a Crazy Cuban. We debated about which would win in a fight. The ambience and the deliciousness of the food make me forget the outcome.

 

The biggest part of our outing, however, was a very unplanned excursion into the world of one Nikolai Tesla, inventor of many electric things and patenter of very few. Also, fun fact, lover of pigeons. That fact didn’t actually appear in this exhibit, but it’s something I know because I once wrote a poem called “Tesla And Marconi Throw Down For Patent Rights, Royalties, And, Most Importantly, Fame” that was published in Spilt Milk, a now defunct British online poetry mag. It’s one of my favorite poems I’ve ever written because not only does it discuss science, patents, and what a douche Marconi was, but it also refers to the band Tesla, a very underrated band concerning nostalgia and the 90s (but who also played Jones Beach last year and seemed to be very happy and very much still underrated).

we found the educational and Cultural Center at the back of the large parking lot where all the other shops stand. There was a Tesla exhibit that cost $5 to see (marked down from $7 because of change issue–score!). The first thing I noticed was that everything was written in both English and Russian. Then I noticed it was not Russian. Tesla was not Russian. It was a different language. Now if you think I’m going to remember or look it up at this point, you don’t know me at all, do you. At least I know about his pigeon-love.

Anyway, the exhibit had trivia and lots of things to read and some things that we weren’t allowed to touch because they obviously generated electricity. There was a neon Tesla. There was also the Tesla car that Tesla did not make. We waited around for the presentation that we were told would happen in 15 minutes. It didn’t happen in 15 minutes even after we took a bathroom break, so we decided to bow out of the demonstration, knowing that there would be some sort of electricity happening. We did partake in the Look At How White The Paper Is Under The Tesla-Inspired Light Bulb, however, which was good enough for us.

 

The misfortune of Tesla stems from his failure to patent his most precious inventions. He did patent some inventions, but not enough. Maybe he trusted people too much or maybe he thought gifting it all to the world was the way to go. However, he died poor. There’s a movie you can watch about it on Amazon, and the exhibit featured a suit and fancy hat worn in the movie.

Since then, Tesla has been following me. Popping up on the television, a documentary about Tesla. Driving down the city street, a street named after Tesla. Tesla cars everywhere I go. Pigeons. Lots of pigeons flying around. Tesla may be trying to tell me something.

Then we saw an old house. Demapped, we first found the address given near the house. Then we drove back and forth through the backroads of Stonybrook and Stonybrook-adjacent, trying to find another old house. Back and forth until, oh, there it is, next to the historical society. The houses were really old. My brother is a history teacher. It made sense to see old things up close. These houses look the same in these photos. They are different.

Tesla-ed out and in a food coma, we found our daytripping coming to a close. I arrived home with a half a sandwich and a bit of a limp, worth every moment.

 

 

 

Petting Penguins

Things I’m big on: free stuff, going to new places. Things I’m not to big on: animals. However, in, like, sixth grade, I made a penguin out of clay. It got smashed along with several other clay animals, and we were allowed to make them over. The smasher, to my knowledge, was never found. Since then, I’ve had a penguin affinity. Although I’m not big on animals, penguins are okay.

That brings us to the weekend of a lot of stuff.

Stuff 1: Travel Marketplace. Hosted by AAA at Hofstra, it’s two floors of free pens, bags, candy, chocolate, note pads, key chains, and stickers. This year, I also got a chip bag clip, and I spun a wheel to win a luggage tag. The best part, aside from learning that Hershey Park has a zoo–yeah, that’s right, a zoo–and aside from learning that you should get the hopper pass in case it rains if you go to Universal Studios, is that we got Moonpies from the good folks over at the Tennessee table.

Also, Eddie and I learned that we still don’t look all that old. We got to a table where two people who looked like they could be our children asked if we’d heard of their tours. I said I’d heard of the name. They were like, we specialize in trips for people in their twenties, and they went to go on but our laughing brought that to a short halt. We called over our two friends who are still in their twenties (And who could also pass for our children) to hear the rest of their pitch.

If you want to go to Scotland, there’s a tour company that offers two versions of a Game of Thrones tour. While I would very much like to see Scotland as a country unattached to a television show, I would also very much like to wear a cloak and shoot an arrow at something.

We booked no trips but did manage to work up an appetite despite the Moonpies and Hershey kisses, so we went to Sonic.

Stuff #2: Sonic. There’s a new Sonic near the mall by us and you have to wait on a very long line no matter if you’re taking out or sitting in a stall in your car and I ordered a grilled chicken sandwich with no mayo which seemed like it would be the healthiest choice–still gross but healthier than anything else–and I took one bite and then threw the rest out. I think I have an aversion to fast food these days. Clearly, I’m not against junk (see “Moonpies” above), but Sonic food really isn’t great. It’s the drinks that makes them Sonic. Everyone else enjoyed their shakes and chili cheese fries. My unsweetened iced tea tasted delightful.

Stuff #3: The Long Island Aquarium. It’s been in existence for 17 years and this was my first time visiting. The one in Coney Island is closer, I think, and really, I’m not an aquarium kind of gal. Fish. Great.

My mind changed a bit when I saw the thingies–stingrays? is that what they are?–coming up out of the water to eat what people were feeding them. For $3, you, too, can feed them. It was fascinating but also a bit disturbing. The faces of these things are really weird.

We went outside to see the sea lion show. Outside was about 2 degrees. We lasted about eleven minutes when I leaned into Eddie and said, I need to go inside like right now. When we got inside, our friends had followed. Pretty much no one wanted to freeze to see a sea lion jump.

We saw sharks, an octopus, a lot of fish of all different kinds, and turtles. We also saw monkeys. I don’t know why they are at the aquarium.

Then we went to pet some penguins. A small group of us were brought to a room near the penguin exhibit, which was closed because it was too cold for even the penguins to be outside, and we sat in a circle while two penguins toddled around us. They nipped at boots and scarves. They crapped and then walked through it a bunch of times. The pecked at doors and windows. They followed around the keeper whenever she walked from one side of the room to the other.

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The keeper picked one up and let us pet the penguin. Then later on, we pet the other penguin. Then we got to take pictures with the penguins.

One of these two people who had arrived late sat looking as if he were going to be sick, and then kept clearing the steam from the windows so people outside could see in. Then he asked someone to take a video instead of a picture. I thought to myself, why in the heck do you need a video of sitting on a bench? Then he didn’t sit. He knelt down and proposed. The people outside knew it was going to happen, so they weren’t trying to see the penguins, really. They’d been trying to watch for the proposal.

The girl said Yes. I’d been holding my breath because it seemed she was going to say No, and I was fighting off tears of potential embarrassment for this guy. Phew.

Stuff#4: Witnessing proposals and penguins can work up an appetite so we went to and Irish-type pub called Diggers Ales & Eats. It was good. Okay, I got a salad, but still, it was a delicious salad.

Sign for Diggers Soup of the day Whiskey

Stuff #5: Eddie’s mentioned a few times this pretzel place that supposedly has the best pretzels on Long Island, Knot Of This World (get it?). From the pub, we went to Huntington to find them. Funny thing: every weekend in March is up for a St. Patrick’s Day parade even if it’s not St. Patrick’s Day. So we found ourselves at the winding-down of Huntington’s Irish celebration. Having just come from an Irish pub, we fit in, of course, except that we were not drunk or wearing green. We parked up a hill and walk in the freezing cold all the way down the main street. We found the pretzel place that had its door open so that the guy outside could yell in to bring out more pretzels to the table he had set up on the sidewalk. Why, sir, must the door stay open?

Aside from remaining frozen indoors, we delighted in very large pretzels. I want to go back with someone who has a palate for exotic tastes so I can split a flavored pretzel, like one with spinach and cheese or one with cinnamon or one with Nutella. These may not seem exotic, but to Eddie, they are because they do not fall into the main food group he likes, Bland. We split a regular pretzel. It was warm and delicious.

Five Stuffs is a lot for one weekend. We did stuff. We stuffed our faces. And I did this final stuff that probably made my weekend. Because it’s the little things.

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Project #ThankYouForBeingAFriend

I think I’m a Dorothy. Long before choosing among Carrie, Samantha, Miranda, and Charlotte in NYC, there were Dorothy, Sophia, Blanche, and Rose in Miami. Donning breezy, colorful, layered frocks, they reveled in cheesecake and lasagna while picturing Sicily and bemoaning/loving the men in their lives. Dorothy was tall, and I’m not, but she was a teacher, which I am. It’s either her or Sophia, who is short, so maybe that’s me, too.

Why a show about four older ladies living together in Miami would appeal to girls around 7 and 8 years old, I don’t know, but it did. Every episode of The Golden Girls, especially in syndication, played on screen in my living room. Then as a teen, I’d watch again. Now as an adult, I don’t watch as often, but there’s something about it that makes me leave it on.

Upon hearing there would be a restaurant dedicated to Blanche and The Golden Girls in NYC, S and I made it THE thing we’d do once it was open. Then it opened. And we did our thing: Project #ThankYouForBeingAFriend.

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Getting there proved a comedy of travel. Amazingly, we were able to text each other when one or the other was on the subway. However, those texts were delayed, so when she was getting on one train car, I was ge01043646469b843fa45ff54ad832367558a6cec7e7tting on another car. On a different train. On a different line. Whoopsie. Train after train, stop after stop, we told each other where we were, but by the time we’d receive the messages, we’d be in different places. We finally met up when I got out at 59th. As we waited for the next train to take uptown together, I got a sweet treat: a butter Kit Kat.

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We made it to 187th and walked in the wrong direction for a while before heading in the right direction and missing it again. FYI: there’s a huge scaffolding in front of Rue La Rue. Before seeing the cafe, we saw something that seems serendipitous. I mean, come on: it’s spelled wrong, but that’s totally a sign. Sophia! Right next to Rue! It had to be a sign. Literally and figuratively (see what I did there?).

When we went inside, we realized just how small it is, but we were 01080949b0c41da71e636879678f53f30de70a6b9efortunate that the film crew there from Inside Edition (or one of those shows) was packing up and we got their table. They’d been there to sing Happy Birthday because it would have been Rue McClanahan’s birthday, which is what this sign says beneath the window glare. We sat and then looked across the room at the ceiling to counter chalkboard menu next to the door. We’d have to go up to the counter on the other side of the room to order. It wasn’t the easiest way to choose what to eat, especially since we couldn’t find a menu online (but I did find a menu for some place in California that came up every time I looked up this place). I overheard the owner say that the menu would be changing based on Rue’s recipe book, so that  might be why they have no menus to hand out. I decided on a curry chicken sandwich and S chose grilled cheese. She went to order and I took pictures, most of them with glare, and made a friend who had been there two hours, gawking at everything. He suggested I get the Betty White Cake along with a piece of cheesecake, which is what he did. Then I took a photo of him and the owner in front of the weird bathroom door, which is the only thing in the place that’s really not Golden Girl themed and is more NYC weird themed.S

S came back with a #3, saying they’d bring the food to us. Then she checked out the weird bathroom, reporting that the butt and an arm were on the inside. That made sense. Here’s the front side:0197f10e3d0cad44ccbe34559ac5c93779ab1eba5c

The01c0401cd8076de8bf02b7b09e71924934585a9ac9n we waited. We watched episodes of The Golden Girls that play on a loop, commercial-free. We watched everyone getting their food and enjoying their food. We wished we had our food. We chatted some more, took more pics, S went on FB live, and then we waited more. The owner came over and chatted with us about the grilled cheese, which he’d told S at the counter when she ordered and then me right then that it had two kinds of cheeses, one expensive and one cheap, to represent each time in Rue’s life. Then he said he’d check on our food.

Then S went up to the counter about ten minutes later to check on our order. They had lost it somehow. My chicken sandwich was sitting somewhere and the grilled cheese was no where to be found, and our meal ticket had no number on it so basically we had #3 on our table for no reason. Then a few minutes later (we’d watched over an episode and a half of TGG by this point, so it was over a half hour), a runner came with my sandwich and said that he’d be right back with the grilled cheese.

He wasn’t right back. I wouldn’t eat until S got her food, but she insisted I eat, so I had a pickle. Then the guys next to us were like, You didn’t get your food yet!? One of them was like, Well, I’m concerned about it at least. Helpful in that fellowship kind of way but  not in that the-food-is-coming way. I at some chips, and S wouldn’t have any. Then she went to the counter and asked simply for biscuits and strawberry butter–her first choice–and they gave her that on the house along with #6.

So she had two inedible numbers and I had a sandwhich. I ate. She got her biscuits! Then she ate! Then the runner came by and she said she no longer wanted the grilled cheese and he almost gasped, You want to leave!? And she was like, no, I’m just not hungry for it anymore. (Another episode of TGG has passed by at this point, so that’s over 40 minutes). He said he’d pack it for her to go, and when he came back with it and a bag, he apologized profusely, saying that since the kitchen staff couldn’t handle a sandwich, they might have to find new staff.

The problem here was that, since she’d already paid, she had to get her sandwich or they would have to give her the money back, but she had no receipt and they’d lost whatever they were supposed to have on their side. The owner couldn’t even figure out what had happened, but he did ask if one of us had ordered a tuna melt. What the?

So we didn’t get the Betty White Cake or cheesecake because who knows how long we’d have to wait for that or if they’d bring out nachos instead. We DID, however, hop on over to the Golden Girls phone.

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Long cord and palm fronds, of course

In all, the experience of being there and taking in the nostalgia was fantastic. The food service, for us, not so great. However, everyone around us got their food and had no issues.

To make up for the food debacle, we headed to Bryan Park’s Winter Village so she could get fried pickles. They didn’t have them. She decided to simply get fries, and the booth that had been open five minutes before when we first walked by was now closed. S was having an unlucky food day for sure. I felt a little guilty since I’d started off with that amazing Kit Kat and then got everything I’d ordered (very late, and it’d been sitting around, but still I got it).

We checked out a cute store across from the park and didn’t find the shirt S wanted (because, you know), but we did find some cute things: ceramic VW trays, UFO bread that’s fun because it’s called UFO, and a scratch-off poster of 100 books to read (I’ve read like 30something of them).

Project #ThankYouForBeingAFriend was mostly a success. I spent a day with my “longest” friend, and even when we’re hungry, we’re having a good time.

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We took this picture 5 times until we decided this one would do.

How Many George Martins

A few years ago, Grillfire gave me cotton candy. Grillfire is a George Martin restaurant. I don’t know much about George Martin, but I do know that he’s got good ideas because cotton candy makes people happy. George Martin has several restaurants with different names, and I decided that the one with the steak was perfect for Eddie’s birthday. I made reservations through Open Table and then on the night of, we headed over to Rockville Centre.

On the drive, I handed my phone over to Eddie and was like, Hey, um, look up George Martin The Original because I don’t know the address. I knew it was in RVC and then realized that knowing the town wasn’t really knowing where exactly it was. We swerved around in the rain for a bit until finally realizing we’d passed it. Score for us–we found parking right on the block.

Out of the car, into the rain, we came right up to the place and I was like, Omigod, this was Grillfire. It had now become a different George Martin restaurant. There was no sign of cotton candy. I didn’t know if it would appear. Maybe George Martin used to have good ideas.

I gave the hostess my name and she didn’t have our reservation. I had changed the time so maybe it got lost somehow. She went to seat us and then mentioned she could call over to the other restaurant to make sure we didn’t get a no-show if our reservation was for there.

Say what? What other restaurant?

Oh, okay, so there’s another restaurant called George Martin The Original that’s two blocks down on the same street in the same town. We were in George Martin Club Steak, which serves steak and other meats but is not the steakhouse George Martin The Original.

Hey, George Martin. Bad idea, sir. Very bad idea.

I’m guessing this happens all the time because the hostess quickly gave us directions on how to walk to the other restaurant as if she gives them all the time. Out into the rain we went, puddles seeping into my suede boots, Eddie clutching me, practically carrying me across the highway and down the streets.

We made it! We walked in! I gave the hostess my name.

She didn’t have a reservation. She asked, Are you sure you’re not supposed to be down the street at…?

I didn’t let her finish. Dripping wet, I was like, Nope, they just told us to come here.

She looked again for me because she didn’t want me to lose my points. Apparently, open table gives you points. I didn’t know I had points, and then I wondered where my points were from the last time I’d used it. I like free stuff. I want these points.

She indulged me by looking at the original time for the reservation and couldn’t find it. Then I thought a moment. Hey, can you try Rau instead? And there it was. Ah, the drawbacks of having two names.

The rainy walk didn’t damper our spirits, especially since we felt like we were in some sort of 20s gangster speakeasy. I don’t know if that’s what they’re going for, but it should be. We ordered quickly, and Eddie suggested I get wine because it’s a special occasion. I ordered one of the two wines of the day and it was a red wine, which I don’t drink, but I drank it because it was also eleven dollars. The wines I drink at home usually are eleven dollars a bottle, so I was being all fancy. And drunk. After two sips, I was reeling.

His steak was good. My shrimp was delicious. Like so very delicious. We also ate bread. Mmm, bread. And the bread had three spreads. Mmm, spreads. Breads and spreads equate to heaven. Yep, we fancy.

We ordered dessert because it was his birthday even though he didn’t like the desserts on the menu and he’d planned to go to my parents’ house so they could give him brownies. His birthday, his rules. I got a flourless chocolate something or other, and because I’d written on the reservation that it was my husband’s birthday, they’d put a candle in it.

George Martin, you’ve redeemed yourself, sir.

The server also put down a plate of lemon squares and was like, This is also for your birthday. Enjoy!

George Martin, I Heart You.

Even though he wasn’t eating it, Eddie pulled the cake towards him to blow out the candle. And he did. And he sat there, unaware of the world around him. And I was like, Umm, you wanna take a look at what you just did? And he was like, What? And I was like, Do you not notice all the powdered sugar now all over the table and all over your suit?

Because he thinks one candle necessitates gale-force winds, he’d blown out the candle and also blown the sugar all over the place. The two of us wiped down the table and his jacket through practical tears, and I finished off my wine and ate half the cake and a square.

Back to the car in the rain and then off to my parents’ house for his dessert. And for some Fun With Saints. Because I had a wine-buzz going, and because a peregrine is a falcon, I figured St. Peregrine could fly. See?

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He also looks like Batman

Fast forward a week: to finish up the birthday celebration, I take Eddie bowling with a few of his friends. He has a request: Bake me a yellow cake with chocolate icing.

I’ve baked cakes before with him. I’ve never baked a cake on my own. Sure, I was using a box, but still, it’s not unintimidating. I followed the instructions except since I didn’t have vegetable oil, I used grapeseed oil. As I was mixing it, I was pretty sure the consistency wasn’t exactly what it should be.

After 23 minutes, the minimum bake time, I opened the oven. The top was baked over, but the cake was jiggling like Jell-O. I kept saying over and again, This is so wrooong. I put it in for five more minutes. Clean toothpick. Took it out. Let it cool. Prayed over it. Let it cool more. Iced it. Covered it. Prayed some more.

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Later on, we ate it. And it was good. It wasn’t cotton candy, but it was really good.

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