We got back from New York around 4:00 on Friday late afternoon. Despite the good times we had in New York we both were relieved to get home. I couldn’t believe how nice it was to see grass, not hearing traffic and horns and having room to move around.
Space is definitely a commodity in New York. We found this out very quickly when we were shown our room in the hostel we were staying in on the lower east side.
“That’s it? We barely can fit our suitcases in here.”
“At least we have a bed.”
“Yeah, the mattress is 6 inches thick.”
Although, we liked the location of the hostel (on the edge of Chinatown and Little Italy) we did not like the cramped room, the noise of traffic and the drunk Polish men coming in at 3 a.m. and mattress. We later learned to ask for earplugs and to drink enough at night to collapse in a drunken stupor of dreamless sleep so we wouldn’t hear the drunk guys at 3 (which, I did yell Shut the F-up at one night).
But, you don’t want to hear about all that. You want to hear about getting married and the good time we had – which, we did. After settling in our little matchbox of a room (later we called it rat box, hamster cage, mouse trap) we went out to explore a bit. Charlie’s parents were going straight to a restaurant at the Brooklyn bridge for dinner as soon as they got in and we were on our own for the night. (We ended up not seeing them until Wednesday when we met down at the Clerk of Court to get married)
We were right on the edge of Little Italy and we walked several blocks exploring the small shops, bars and restaurants. We found this amazing leather store that I couldn’t even afford a wallet. We ended up drinking and having dinner at Gatsby’s that night. The next day we were up at 6 (I say up lightly as we had just discovered why they say New York is the city that never sleeps is because no one will shut the F-up and let you sleep – which, became my mantra – shuthefuckup, shuthefuckup, shuthefucku…) We had already worked out that I would go get coffee (don’t ask if our little mousetrap of a hostel offered coffee) while Charlie would go shower. This is one of the things I love about traveling – is discovering where to get sh*t. Walking out of our walkup hostel I discovered a newsstand/store across the street where they would make these exquisite latte’s. They put more thought into their latte’s than the regular Starbucks employee. I would get us latte’s and wander back across the street to the mousetrap and walk up to the (5th floor), through the lobby (that and the rooftop garden where it was supposed to be the only places you were ALLOWED to talk) and into the women’s shower room (which, I might add was a floor below the one where our hamster cage was). Charlie would usually just be getting out of the shower before a whole herd of women started in.
After getting dressed (we learned to do this separately in our matchbox) we started towards the City Clerk’s office to complete our marriage application. We needed to do this early in the morning as 24 hours after that we needed to appear again (Wed). Wednesday afternoon we had theatre tickets so we needed to be married by no later than noon that day.
We discovered it was an easy walk through Chinatown to the clerk’s office from our hostel so we started off. I loved walking through the neighborhood but not as much as I did Little Italy. We arrived at the clerk’s office 15 minutes before they opened and got in line. There were several people there to do exactly what we were doing. Just then a lady came out in a uniform and informed us that everyone needed to take out their I.D.’s. Then, she opened the doors and we filed in. She ever informed us where to line up and organized everyone quite well. In fact, I couldn’t believe how organized it was. We approached a desk and was asked our reason there and we said to complete our marriage application. We were asked to show I.D. and if we had registered online and had a confirmation number. We said we did and showed our receipt with the number on it. We were then given a number and directed to seats along the wall and told to wait for our number to be called.
It was exactly like going to the Department of Driver Services, y’all. A voice was saying in the same tone, “Now calling A238 at station number five!” I was amazed how quickly it went. They called our number and we appeared at the station number and a lady took our I.D.’s, we paid $35, verified the information on the application was correct and we were finished. The time stamp on our application was 8:46 a.m. (sixteen minutes after they opened, I might add).
Charlie said to the lady that processed our application, “I know you’re busy but could I ask what the ceremony is going to be like? We have vows we want to say to each other and wanted to know if we would be able to do that.”
The lady shook her head and said, “I don’t think they will let you but you can ask the Officiate over there – he’s the one who does all the ceremonies.”
We went over to the desk where a man sat and she asked the same question. He just chuckled and said something to this effect:
” I marry, like, fifty people a day, lady. If we did everyone’s vows we would never get through this. Hey, vows are usually people rehashing when and where they met anyway.”
We smiled and said we understood but was laughing about it the rest of the time there.
After a breakfast of egg sandwiches (which, I’ve decided I can go a really long time without having one again) we walked back to our mousetrap and decided to walk to West Village.
I had originally thought that West Village would be a gaytropolis but it turned out it wasn’t. We found the MoMa store that we spent at least an hour in browsing. We could have spent even more time downstairs looking through all the art and photography books. We set out again and found a Triumph/Ducati dealer and, again, we spent hours talking to the many friendly, helpful people in the store. We finally made it over to West Village and it didn’t look any different than any place we’d been to before. We found Stonewall Inn but it was closed at the time so we decided to come back that evening and take the train as my feet were starting to hurt. Later, when we went back there for a drink we couldn’t believe how tiny it was inside. According to the gruff dyke bartender the original bar used to encompass the nail salon next door. I asked if the locals came there for happy hour and she said yes and tourists – a little too gruffly for my taste. Gee, where was the hospitality? I pulled up Yelp on my phone and found several gay bars in the area and suggested we hit a few. We wandered down the street and found Marie’s Crisis.
Ok, the name alone we should have known better but instead when Charlie and I got to the door we pulled it open, stepped into the place and looked down the stairs at a bunch of people sitting around a piano manned by a large – I presumed – gay man, singing. The singing stopped and we had several pairs of eyes on us before we bolted out the door.
No F-ing WAY I’m going in there and singing, I said. Clearly, Charlie and I were shook up over it and needed another drink and stat. We wondered over to another bar called Monster. We looked inside and saw a sea of white haired men talking to each other.
We went across the street to The Duplex and walked in. I spied a piano in the corner and an older leather man next to it, I grabbed Charlie’s hand and we bolted up the stairs. Upstairs it was dark with a not so crowed bar along one wall that we pulled out stools and sat at. Mariah Carrey was playing, there was a mix of people at the bar talking not paying us any attention and I didn’t feel the pressure to sing. We ordered drinks from the bartender who turned out to be campy and hilarious. We asked him about the two bars we had come across and he chuckled and said that the first one he had worked at one night and quit and the second was an older male pick-up joint. Later that night we split a Calzone at apparently New York’s first Pizza Place, Lombardi’s.
The next day was another early one. We had to get up and get ready to go downtown to get married. I went to go across the street to my latte’ place and it was closed. I had to wander through Little Italy until I found a market with flowers that sold coffee. I bought coffee and red roses and brought them back. When I got back, Charlie was in the shower room putting on makeup and doing her hair. I handed her the coffee and I went back upstairs to get undressed and put on my robe (you wore robes to the shower as there was no room to get undressed in there or hang up other clothes) and back downstairs, walked through the lobby no less in my robe, to the shower room to take a shower. What a process. When I was finished Charlie wanted to dry my hair. We were standing at the sink right beside the showers that other women were using. She was blow drying my hair and some woman was trying to put on her robe behind me. She was drying my hair and some other woman was trying to get past into another shower.
I can’t stand this! I have to get out of here.
Just a little more, Hon, and your hair will be dry. There, now you can go.
I finished getting dressed on the roof of the hostel that morning. I sat up there, finished my coffee and tucked my shirt into my pants looking out over the street below. There was no air circulation in the hostel and I spent the entire time sweating so it was nice to be out in the fresh air. We had decided to take the train downtown that morning and upon walking off the train and to the Clerk’s office we spied Charlie’s family waiting for us. We took pictures, Charlie put on a necklace of her grandmothers to get married in. Her folks bought her a rose bouquet to carry. Again, we went inside and waited in the line. The same lady came out again and told us to get our I.D.’s out. Charlie and I already had ours in our hands but Charlie’s parents had to dig around for theirs. They were going to be our witnesses. We got up to the desk, were asked our I.D.’s again and just when the guy was giving us our number he paused and said, It says here you have to wait another ten minutes (It was 8:26) and told us to stand off to the side. He literally couldn’t give us a number to proceed until it was 8:46 exactly. We stood off to the side, antsy to go inside. Finally, it was time and we were given a number C-something and told to go sit down along the wall and wait until our number was called -after it was both Charlie and myself and both her parents had to appear at the station. I.D.’s had to be produced again, a fee of $25 had to be paid and both her parents had to verify that their information was correct (Thank Goddess that they both had had their addresses changed on their driver’s licenses before getting there because they had recently just moved to a new place). Then, we were given back the same number and told to have a seat again and wait for the same number to be called again and to appear at station number 5 to meet the Officiate to go into the chapel. We smiled as the same man from yesterday came to meet us and showed us in to the East Chapel. He had a podium set up at one end and we were told to place our rings on the podium and to step back a bit so everyone could take pictures. He allowed for a few pics and asked if we were ready and we said yes and he went into it and in no time did he say, You can now kiss and seal the ceremony.
After we kissed and it was over, everyone hugged and we went out. Charlie muttered, Ok, so where’s the window for divorce and someone actually pointed and we laughed. I think her brother’s girlfriend got that on tape, too, as she had recorded the whole thing.
Afterwards, we went up the street to the grocery we went to yesterday and had another egg sandwich. After breakfast with the now in-laws we went our separate ways until dinner that night. Charlie and I went back to change clothes and head uptown to catch a show in the theatre district – Kinky Boots.
When we got off the subway I was shocked at the amount of people and tourists in that part of town. I was thankful for the location (not the mousetrap) we were staying. We shopped a bit – Charlie bought me a hat and a watch for a wedding present and we found the theatre and got in line for the show and discovered we were the only people in line that didn’t have white hair and probably the youngest there – to boot. (no pun intended) There was a sea of white hair. A bus pulled up and another sea of white hair got off.
Gee, this is what we get for going to the early show.
We went inside and were ushered to our seats. Charlie jumped up to go to the bathroom while I sat and amusingly listened to the conversation behind me.
These are crap seats, lady #1 said.
I didn’t think so –I handpicked our seats myself online after hours of study. The website had allowed you to choose a seat and then it showed what it looked like from that location to the stage – I had looked at at least thirty different seats before deciding on ours.
Well, Rosemary said she had gotten these at the box office and this was all they had left, Lady #2 who had a knit shawl thrown over her shoulders.
What did she pay for them, do you know? Lady #3 already with a drink in her hand.
Who cares what she paid, Grandma, these are great! Granddaughter, I presumed.
I think she paid $150 each? #2.
Well, she got ripped off. #1
Just then Charlie came back and I jumped up to go get us drinks. As I turned and slipped out of my seat past Charlie I said to #1, I got ours for $50! She did get ripped off!
I didn’t but the looks on their faces were worth the lie. I went out and bought two red mixed drinks (because Red is the color of sex) in Kinky Boots cups. They were still squawking over it when I got back. The lights dimmed and we saw probably the best drag/theatre show I had ever seen in my life. The money I did spend on the tickets and drinks were worth every cent. I wish we could see it again it was so good.
That night we had to somehow maneuver our way over to Tribeca via the subway to meet her parents at one of De Niro’s restaurants for dinner. We had a hard time getting there as we had to maneuver a few blocks around construction that had blocked off the street. We found them in another restaurant/bar up the street. I had learned when meeting Charlie’s family (this is particularly true with her brother and girlfriend) that you never just meet at the restaurant and have a drink before dinner THERE. No, you meet at a bar/restaurant nearby have a drink and wander in to another one and have another drink and do this a few times before you go to dinner. That night we only hit that place before the dinner place but we had several in the restaurant before they seated us. The restaurant was attached to a hotel (one that I fantasized staying in the next visit) that had a very quiet library-like lounge. We decided to go in there and say our vows to each other. We got everyone seated and we each read our vows to each other. Hers were amazing – I didn’t know she could write like that – mine – were shorter and comprised of bits of our favorite songs we had sent to each other in the beginning. Her father cried. I was touched.
By the time we left dinner we were all feeling pretty happy and not functional enough to maneuver the subway so we caught cabs back to our places. I think that was the only night Charlie and I actually slept. The next day we were supposed to go on a bicycle tour of New York but it was raining so instead we spent the day wandering through the MET. I was thrilled we had gotten to go there during our visit. I was also thrilled I had gotten to see everything I wanted to see in the museum before we had gotten lost. I had said my contingency of going was as long as I got to see the stuff I wanted to see first -19th and 20th century European art – ie: van Gogh, Monet, Manet – specifically, Impressionism – then I didn’t care what I saw after that. I am a bit of a snob when it comes to art – or maybe even a bit closed minded because that is the only type of art I desire to look at -paintings, more or less. I can appreciate other works – even more after I’ve seen what I want to see. Why I say Please let me see my people before you drag me through a gallery of crumbly old statues with the heads cracked off of them.
When I look at a painting by Manet, Degas and Monet my spirits soar. When I look at old, crumbly statues or some old bowel that someone used to mix water I think,
Thankfully, we found the correct place to be and got to see what I wanted before running into her mother, brother and girlfriend who were in the Arms and Armor section of the museum. That was when her brother said he had to go see Vermeer. He is one of those people who if there is one iota of something that sparks his interest then he has to study up and recite a thesis about it (similar to my sister – Charlie and I both think he is the male version of my sister minus the taste in home furnishings). He had just watched some documentary that talked about how he used light in his paintings and how some man tried to replicate the light in the paintings and couldn’t do it – or something to that effect. I was game to go see them – however, I had no desire to stand in the room and stare at them for 40 minutes like him and gf did. Both Charlie and I were ready to go sit down somewhere and have a drink -her Mom, too. We ended up going to the café’ and I had a beer while the two of them ate yogurts and split a chocolate chip cookie.
By the time we got out of the museum her brother was still rambling on about his Vermeer thesis and I needed another drink. We all walked to catch the 77th street subway and went our separate ways until it was time to meet up again for dinner. Charlie and I got off at the Spring Street subway and went into Gatsby’s and ordered beers and plugged in our iPhones. We were both out of juice and needed them to get around.
I could have sat at that bar all night – or until it was time to fall into a drunken stupor at the hostel (hoping for once that my snoring was loud and keeping the Polish guys up). I told Charlie to text her brother that we’d meet them at the Spring Street station and we’d go to Gatsby’s for a drink and then go to Lombardi’s for pizza. She did and got back a No, we’re going here for dinner. Address: blah, blah, blah uptown New York.
D@amn, we have to get on the subway again? Which one? We don’t have any juice in our phones. Ok, I think we go to this one, finish your beer and let’s go.
So, we walked to another station and walked down the stairs and stared at the map and it went nowhere near where we wanted to be. We had messed up. We decided to bag it and get a cab. We finally get to the place and are standing in front of the restaurant but no one was there.
Maybe they’re not here yet. Call your brother.
They were three blocks down the street in another bar, of course. This was what I was saying earlier. We walk in and no one is drinking except brother and gf. They’re like, We came here because they specifically make these drinks that are infused with ginger from this rare place in the orient blah, blah, blah (I’m making this up but it was a similar conversation/thesis on expensive special drinks they made there). I wasn’t in the mood. You dragged us all the way uptown to an expensive place to drink that only served three types of beers – that were $11, $12 and $17 and all served in a can. Were these special beers that traveled half way across the country in whiskey barrels that were dug up from the 20th century? I was about to say this sarcastically blunt but I caught a warning eye from Charlie. I asked her Mom why she wasn’t drinking and she said that they didn’t serve Jim Beam and Ginger Ale. We decided to leave – much to my relief. We walked across the street to another bar and sat down – this place much nicer. We ordered beers and her mom a drink. I was cooling off from before but it was then Charlie and her brother got into it about certain breeds of dogs. The subject of Charlie’s work had come up – which is animal rescue – and her brother made a blanket statement that people who are ignorant on the subject of certain dogs and rescue tend to make and she lit into him. I was glad. I agree with her wholeheartedly but I knew she wasn’t going to win an argument with Mr. Thesis so I just sat there and listened. Her Mom got very uncomfortable and had to get up and go to the restroom. I wonder why people tend to get upset so much when other people have differing opinions. It passed and we all had another round before finally going across the street for dinner where I had a wonderful dinner and all the earlier piss-off-ishness was forgotten. After dinner, we hugged on the street, caught cabs and left.
The next morning I was across the street at the newsstand watching them pour my perfect latte’. Charlie and I were going to breakfast before leaving for the airport. We walked around little Italy and found the Egg Shop. I had this wonderful little bowl of greens with an egg on top along with an Americano to die for. A wonderful (egg) cap to a wonderful trip.