Middle is adamant. She did not come all the way to New York to come back to Florida and tell her friends that she did not in fact go to FAO Schwartz.
Like every other father since the dawn of time; if your daughter wants something: you’re going to give in at some point. There’s no thought process in it, there’s not logic behind it. Little girl wants, you get. That’s it!
“Ok, little girl, Ill take you to FAO, but so you know: its almost 25 blocks uptown and on the other side of the Park. The car is staying here, we’re walking, and its starting to snow….”.
The problem with Middle is she lives in some weird alternate reality where only happiness exists and pain never intrudes. Cold? Whats that? Feet hurt? Who cares? Nose running from cold? Not her problem!
So off we trudge into the wilderness that is 34th st. in the shopping season outbound to Lexington ave to go uptown. Middle is happy, content in the strange embrace of the city. She marvels over the huge amounts of people, more than she’s ever seen in place simply walking along with her. She passes the street vendors hawking pretzels “you don’t want that shit, they’re almost always burnt to a crisp on one side and frozen on the other, lets keep walking and see if we can find a roasted chestnut seller” says I. Middle is perplexed “Daddy, whats a chestnut and how are you going to know the difference between vendors?” “Little Girl, a chest nut is just a big roasted nut and as for how am I going to know?, Easy I’ll know blocks from where the guy is selling them!”. “How can you do that Daddy, do you have a street guy app for your phone??”
“Little Girl, I’m a native, some things are just born into you. That and they stink on ice for miles!” back to trudging along my resolve falters somewhere around Lexington and 34th. I could have easily walked it. No problem, but Middle was having issues. She was becoming slower and slower and some of that was her looking in to the sky to see how far the buildings go up but most of it was its simply too hard for a Florida girl to deal with the cold and unfamiliar landscape of the City. So I made the decision to hail a cab. Of course, I’m now kicking myself in the ass for my little “lets walk her out of the FAO idea” because when I started this farce out I was at 34th and 5th where there is a metric ass ton of cabs, now I’m standing on the corner of Lex and 34th, not a one. So we march back to Park where I figure we may get a bit more action and sure enough the moment we approach the corner a hack comes by and I launch myself into the middle of the street to hail him. I forget to tell Middle that 1. that’s how you hail a cab and 2. its a reasonably safe maneuver. She is not amused.
Wow! Its been a while…The interior of the cab is over heated and reeks of eastern European….stuff. I don’t know quite how to describe the stench but it was overwhelming. Fortunately, its a quick ride uptown past the Pan-Am Building….what the hell?? Uh, Met-Life Building, man I’ve been gone a while! More blocks go by now agonizingly slow, Christmas Shopping Season, Dahlinks, and the Cabby wants to drop us off in front of FAO and we’re still 3 blocks away. I want the hell of this fucking cab right the fuck now! “Uh, you know what, here is good, whats the fair? $14? Here’s a $20, Ashley, lets move!!!”
As we approach FAO I detect something I’ve not seen before, a group minded conscious of absolute power, terrifyingly stark white and undulating underground. “Middle, hold my hand tight, I don’t know what this is but I sense some horrible entity behind it!”
“Daddy, I know that after 10 years of being forcibly retired from IT, that you still bleed IBM blue from your veins, but, really, seriously? Its just the Apple store!”.
Oh! Whatever, still looks like Darth Vader’s white party to me.
Of course being Christmas Season, Dahlinks, there’s a line to get in to FAO. I do not like lines. I do not not people, and I especially dislike cheery, happy, wholesome, Midwesterner’s in line with me. Not me, not in my City. But for Middle’s sake I reign in my usual bile for something on the order of “Whats that you say? Oh, USS Intrepid? Yeah, um, they moved her permanently to Scottsdale, Arizona.. Shame to see her go”. “But, we just saw her.” “Oh, yeah, that. ……….Its a reproduction from the set of the Philadelphia Experiment”.
What I love about people from the Midwest: they may realize you’re crazy, but they’re far too polite to do anything about it!
Finally its our turn in through the door. Middle is again overwhelmed by the people, sights, and sounds. Its slammed in there and frankly, I remember FAO as being slightly otherworldly in the 80’s. A place where every kids dream could come true. From the “Welcome to our World of Toys” song and the dancing animatronics to the stupid light up floor piano from “Big”. It was awesome! This version was an overpriced Toys R Us missing the fat housewives from Boca Raton. I’m pissed off, overheated, and now I just want to get the hell out of the City as fast as possible because, well, because, I never really liked being in the City in the first place! Middle isn’t overly thrilled either so we go, back into the cold of 5th ave heading back to the car.
If you’ve never been to the City during Christmas Season, Dahlinks, then you can have no understanding of what craziness 5th Ave is. I’ll do my best to explain: Its a stinky mass of humanity from all over the globe carrying bags of overpriced goods back to wherever the hell they’ve come from, slowly. That’s the summation, the reality is much much worse.
Middle and I struggle through the masses and pray to whichever gods will listen to us heathens for a cab. Thankfully, I managed to steal, uhm, hail a cab from some more nice Midwestern people and we’re back to the garage where the rental is, and shortly thereafter, Middle, myself and the rental car are on West Street heading back to the tunnel and the South Shore.
Back at Marc and Hilary’s we all decide on pizza for dinner. Strangely enough after a day home I’ve still not gotten my pizza. Now what follows is classic Marc; I want pizza. The greasy kind. The kind that burns the hell out of your mouth with cheese and a red line down your arm from grease. NY style Pizza!
Marc, also wants pizza. But, he’s got no interest in eating “that shit”. When Marc is unhappy with the idea of something it gets classified as “that shit”.
Foodstuffs Marc classifies as “That shit”
bacon, greasy pizza, english muffins, sausage: the breakfast kind, basically anything unhealthy or unwanted is “That shit”.
There’s an Italian restaurant at the very end or beginning depending on your point of view of Atlantic Beach that does not serve “that shit”. As we approach the parking lot being New York, cold, and recovering from a recent hurricane, maybe you saw the news? There’s a small issue going on between two patrons on just whats the proper way to park a car. The owner of the car felt it appropriate to essentially do whatever the hell he wanted and the person next to him disagreed, loudly. Oy..
Once seated, a surly waiter comes by and throws menus at us. This doesn’t bode well. I order a glass of wine, Marc suggests instead of the glass why don’t we just get a bottle, we’re going to drink that much anyway. Good idea I thought until the waiter marches off. Oy again. When Surly Waiter comes back, Hilary attempts the ordering thinking that if Surly Waiter doesn’t like Marc or I maybe he’ll respond better to her. Yeah, another good idea, Surly Waiter may have disliked Marc and I, he really didn’t like Hilary! After some more of this routine, we managed to get our order in and delivered to the table. It was pizza, it was good, but after all that trouble I’d been happier just getting a slice and a coke from the pizza parlor down the street! Ok, I’ve now reached and breached my allotted New York time, its really time to get the hell out of there, back to Florida!
The next morning I’m up early, Middle is still out like a light. I set up at the table with my tablet next to Marc and Hilary as is the routine in the morning there. A few minutes go by, nothings said. This is normal. Nothing out of the ordinary, Hilary beats up her laptop’s keyboard, Marc watches the financial news on the TV, and I read Facebook posts. All of which is done in silence. It works. Has worked for years.
“Uh, you may have noticed, maybe not, but, ah, we’re kinda short on breakfast food, Hurricane and all.” as Marc breaks the silence. “uh” I managed out. “yeah, its going to be OK though, fortunately, there’s that bagel place in Long Beach, get me a muffin while you’re there and if you go now I’ll set up the toaster”. Uh, I guess I can go, but, really you know your way around and I…”
“I’m not going! Its cold out there! Besides, you like the cold!” Says Marc. He’s got a point. I do indeed like the cold. So I saddle up for the last trip before JFK in the rental, grabbed bagels, a bialy, and fucking forget Marc’s muffin!
Middle’s up, we eat, and its time to say our goodbyes for this quick trip. We half way debated leaving a little early so that we could stop by our friend’s store, but, you can not strip away Hilary and Middle time. After Middle get done crying some more, she really really loves her Hilary time, we’re up and out to JFK and home.
A note on Middle: During the time we were in New York, she ate nothing. Period. Nothing. She was suffering from a stomach virus so painful that it hurt her to eat. But, because she’s who she is, stomach virus be damned, she wasn’t going to eat or let me know how bad she was feeling because she’s going to New York come hell or high water. She made it from Friday to Sunday on the plane eating just enough to get by and never let on that she was in any form of pain. Once onboard the plane, she gorged herself silly and passed out with her head on my lap. And the moment the hot, humid air of S. Florida hit her, she puked it all up in the jetway. That’s my Middle.