I returned Sunday night from one of my bestest NYC trips ever. While there, I was thinking of the first time I was in NY. It was 1984 and I was with my college roommate, Maria. We took the bus in from Jersey where her boyfriend went to Fairleigh Dickinson College. In 1984, NY had not been cleaned up and Port Authority was scary and smelly and dark. Did I mention I had a cast on my leg from slipping on a piece of ice and breaking it? I was hobbling around Port Authority being accosted by bums and I would talk to them until Maria pulled me away and told me not to make eye contact and keep moving.
So much has changed with me and with NY since then. I no longer hang out with people who dine and ditch at the Plaza so that security follows us outside (that incident was NOT Maria’s fault). The Port Authority, while still bustling, is much cleaner and far less scary than it was 30 some odd years ago.
My pal Lisa (see here and here) had a baby shower to go to this past weekend and invited me to tag along with her to NYC. Delta now has a silly cheap ($300 round trip) direct flight from Portland to JFK and Lisa has a nephew who works at the Ace Hotel and could get us a deal, so off we went!
There is an Ace Hotel in Portland so I know that it is a retro hip super cool happenin’ spot. I didn’t realize just how super retro hip cool the hotel is and how old 48 is.
I am at least 20 years too late for the Ace. I don’t have any I products (Pad Pod Pid etc), I don’t know how to accessorize, and I have no jeans that are so tight they could cause pregnancy…in other words I looked like a grandmother there. Nooo…even better, Lisa hit the nail on the head: we were invisible. And it is fine with me to be invisible, I’m too old to care about the Cougar thing; that cat left the cage years ago.
Once we dropped our stuff in our room (our room included an acoustic guitar), figured out the sensitive dimmer light switch which took at least 10 minutes, including much discussion and magical waving of hands, washed our faces, changed our clothes, stuck some hankies in our sleeves; we hit the lobby for some action or as we called it, food. There seems to be a thing in NY, when you go in a bar…the actual bar stools AT the bar are considered the bar. If there are tables with chairs or bar stools, those are the restaurant and you can’t just sit down there. If you want to sit down and there is no room at the bar, you must go talk to a rude 25-year-old young woman who will tell you,
“Uhhhhh, it’s a 30-minute wait
you old hag. If you want to get some Metamucil a drink at the bar, I can probably find something for you in a very dark corner near the garbage.”
We couldn’t have reached the bar without a machete; so we decided to take our chances outside the hotel.
Note to rude 25-year-old hostesses…. you better be really smokin’ hot to get away with that sort of attitude and um, yer not.
We found a cute place called Tavern 29. It was full downstairs so the very nice young girls told us to try the upstairs bar. We went up there and there were open tables but they weren’t really open, they were reserved for people born in 1990. One of the hostesses asked us apologetically if we would like a little corner table up by the front window. Yes we would! And could you kids turn that music down? Great food and chat time before we strolled the city. Weather was lovely, cold and clear. We walked up to Bryant Park and through Times Square.
We returned to the Ace and found it more happening than before we left, packed, loud and hot.
We scurried to the safety of our room. The next morning Lisa went downstairs for some coffee with some trepidation, not knowing if there might be a coffee rave or some sort of flash brunch going on.
Happily, on Friday we found places more our speed. After visiting Dylan’s Candy Bar and Gracious Home, we happened upon Neil’s Coffee Shop on E. 70th. Neil’s is a throwback to an older, grittier New York and we loved it! Lisa and I gave ourselves away as tourists (not that I’m ever going to look very New Yorkerish) by using menus. Everyone else seemed to know what they wanted or needed to know what the soup was. “Pastrami on rye, two pickles, no slaw”. I think I may have seen Scott Baio in there but I’m not sure. It looked like him and sounded like him but what are the chances of me actually sitting three stools away from ChaChi? After eating, I took a picture of this bustling lunch stop because, well, I’m a blogger. In a split second the girl (who previously had looked as if she had hot glue gunned herself to the stool at the cash register) was out from behind her little counter and explaining to me that there is a “no photo” policy in Neil’s. Why? Because they don’t like photos to be taken in Neil’s. She stood next to me until I deleted it. So I went outside and took photos.
Stay tuned tomorrow for the arts and culture part of the Adventure.