Almost 4 years ago, my brother asked my kids what they wanted for Chanukah. One said “candy”. The other, older and wiser at age 5, answered “I want to see you in your house”. Since said house was in NYC, my brother sent over tix – one for my boy and one for me – and off we went. This child had an agenda. No Broadway shows for him. He had other business. He wanted to see Central Park and The Statue of Liberty, following the escaped footprints of Marvin the Ape. He also needed to check out The American Museum of Natural History (thanks, Night at the Museum).
And so we did. We traipsed through Tribeca and Soho. We wandered through the Park by foot, carousel, and handsome cab. Butterfly exhibits, dinosaurs, and tableaux. The Museum shop (our favourite part!). Coffees a-plenty. Neighborhood parks. River walks. Taxi boat tour. Lady Liberty. Visits with friends. A side trip to cousins in Jersey. We did it all.
Cut to: present day. It’s 6-yr-old son #2′s turn to visit his uncle. So off we flew, down to the Big City.
This time, there were no museums. Pas de parks. Forget the friends. Our agenda was simple: dining and retail. This was a boy after my own heart. He had things to eat and stuff to buy. And so did I!
We arrived and immediately went for lunch at Bubby’s. Child-friendly, lots of fried stuff. Crayons. Perfect.
Next stop: FAO Schwarz. I still have buyer’s remorse. And non-buyer’s regret. I wasn’t that impressed. And my son? He was downright cranky. Why? Because his current obsession, the never-ending spend-a-thon that is Skylanders, wasn’t available. He was sick about it. And no amount of remote control UFOs, big-piano manoeuvres, or FAO Schweetz bulk candy could save the day.
The wii was left behind, but was threatening to ruin our trip. As we edged our way down 5th, I stared at the forbidden fruit….Bendels, Sax, Bergdrof’s….I even forced my young traveller into a packed Sax. Crazy shoes, crazier people. And so miserable!! I figured if these folks were browsing the $1000 plus footwear range, surely they’d have something to smile about?? We made our escape and found a cab. As we headed back downtown, the high street stores mocked me with their sale signs. But I was here for my son. It was his trip. And it’s not like I couldn’t find the same stuff here at home, right?
The next day, we headed straight to Central Park.
It was about 500 degrees and we all humoured each other. My brother pretended he was happy to act tourist-y. I pretended the park wasn’t making me melt, and my son pretended he’d rather be running and playing than searching out evasive characters to battle Kaos on the Portal of Power. “Fake it ’til we make it” was our motto. And it worked. We had a blast, despite toilet line-ups, creepy “human statues” and nutritional data on the front of the pretzel cart.
Did you know NYC street meat is practically dietetic? A mere 200 cals. Compare that to a classic Big Apple pretzel, which packs upwards of 400 cals for its salt-crusted goodness. Crazy right?
We headed to my bro’s diner of choice. Which happened to be stationed directly across from Barney’s. What kind of cruel joke was this? I mentioned popping in…just for a few minutes… but was met with steely silence. Not this trip.
“It’s not my trip….It’s not my trip….It’s not my trip….”
And off we went to Times Square. On Memorial Day weekend. Packed with military pomp. My son loved it. He climbed a tank. He faux-drove an armored hummer. He even posed with a sweaty shrek. The reason for his glee and happiness? We hit up the supersized Toys R Us and hit the Skylanders mother lode. $150 dollars worth of made-in-China later and I thought I’d be in the clear. I was wrong.
After Times Sq (and a celeb spot! Snoop Dogg … Can we call him Snoop?) we headed back downtown. My brother skipped out on us, and my son insisted we go back to our place to relax. The poor little guy was exhausted. We found ourselves stuck in traffic. Again.
“It’s not my trip…It’s not my trip….” The boutiques continued to beckon. “It’s not my trip…It’s not my trip…” Maybe we should go back to my brother’s. My son could crash out, I could do some on-line browsing, maybe have stuff delivered express…And then the glorious pink awning of Olive & Bettes appeared right outside my taxi door.
And we did. My son was given my iphone and instructed to remain seated. I’d had enough. It was my trip, goddammit. The cranky clouds of grumpiness lifted with each dress I tried on. And 90 minutes later, we were on our way, laden down with bags, going to meet my sister-in-law and niece for coffee, cake and combo comparisons. Now THIS was my kinda town (yeah I know it’s a Chicago reference. Too bad). And my boy felt it too. Suddenly, he wanted to stop in anywhere and everywhere. He was thrilled with his new light up shoes and endless other bribes. We were in NYC, goddamit. Screw the sites. We were shopping.
Even a jaunt out to Greenwich CT the following day couldn’t dampen the afterglow of my spree. Despite the 60 minutes it took (instead of the 20 we were quoted!). And despite the train being packed. And sitting backwards. I knew a quick stop at Scoop would make it all alright.
Retail therapy? Hell yeah! The doctor was in, and taking visa!
Trains, planes, automobiles and boats. Restos, diners, sushi bars and coffee shops. Heat waves and thunder showers, friendly faces and complete psychos – we thoroughly enjoyed our trip to the Big Apple. Especially once we/I gave in to the temptation facing us/me at every corner.
A New York State of mind indeed. And we’ve got the new outfits, shoes and toys to prove it.