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October 3, 2011

CANADIANS TAKE A (SMALL BUT SIGNIFICANT) BITE OUT OF THE BIG APPLE ... AND BACK FOR SECONDS ~ because you just can't get enough of a 'good thing!"

OH, WE CAN LAUGH NOW!  But, at the time, we weren't sure that would ever happen.  
It was the mid-eighties and my girlfriend Lorie and I decided to take a week-end, shopping trip to NYC.  
We were a little naive about what to expect from The Big Apple, as it sure wasn't what it is now. But, we made a plan and just focused on all the things we would try to squeeze in over the two day week-end.  We left on a Friday, from Buffalo on the now defunct airline, People's Express, with a plan to return Sunday.  We both had to work on Monday, so this would work.   
I'm skipping many of the details here because I actually wrote a very, detailed account some years ago, intending to 'pitch' it to The New York Times or The New Yorker, the focus being a Canadian experience in NYC.  I had just completed the final edit, when a pivotal event took place that caused me to toss it into a drawer for another decade.  It was the eve of September 11th, 2001.  And, incidentally here I am again, inspired to re-tell my tale on the 10'th anniversary of that horrendous, life-changing event.  So this was our plan:  

  • Stay in a fabulous, Manhattan hotel
  • Take the ferry tour around Staten Island
  • Keep an eye out for Neil Simon (that was for me - I'm a fan)
  • Afternoon tea (or more likely - wine) at The Plaza
  • Shop 
  • Shop
  • Shop for 'I Love NY' paraphernalia for folks at home
  • More shopping?
  • See a Broadway show Saturday night
  • Dine somewhere that says 'I'm in NYC!" after the show
  • Dance - at a club like Studio 54
  • Leisurely brunch, Sunday morning before leaving
Okay, let me begin with a warning for everyone...
If you know anything at all about 'Astrology' then you are likely familiar with something called, 'Mercury In Retrograde.' 
In short, it's the way the planets line up at certain times of the year for a finite period of time (3 weeks) and how planet Mercury, specifically causes anything to do with communications/technology to go awry.  
I've warned people who are going on trips during this retrograde event, and they pooh-poohed me. But, guess who ends up calling me to say' "You were so right!"  Well, at that time, I knew nothing of Mercury et al, and so I had no way of knowing that I should triple check everything before leaving.  
The one thing people, without exception, kept warning us about was to NOT walk alone at night in NYC. 
"Stay with the crowds." They'd say. "We will. We will"  We'd reassure them, rolling our eyes. But it was still the mid-eighties and NYC street crime was still pretty rampant there. Anyway, we knew to be careful, despite the dire warning of friends and family.  
So, here's some of the most significant things that happened to us, as I now call just over 3 decades later.  Where the hell did that time go?  
We were ready to make the plane stop on the runway and let us off when we heard the captain announce that we would be landing in New Jersey - we thought we had gotten on the wrong plane - we didn't know they flew into La Guardia and that Manhattan is just a cab ride away. 
Neil Simon
The flight attendant came tearing down the aisle to see why we were standing up and yelling, while taxiing.  We felt like complete idiots.
The taxi driver advised us that we would be better off walking to the hotel as we were stuck in mid-day rush hour and all the streets were grid-locked.  We agreed, but were shocked to have him dump our bags right in the middle of the street, despite the cacophony of honking horns - at US!!
Our hotel room was a big disappointment, although at the time we paid well over $100 per night, thinking this would assure us a good room.  There was a huge gap under the door to the hallway, which we stuffed with towels and before retiring, we would jam a chair under the doorknob, just to be sure.  

It was June. Rainy, rainy June.  Sing along if you are familiar with the old, Gershwin tune.. "I love NY in June, how about you?"  Nope!  
On the Staten Island Ferry, we stood at the bow of the boat hanging onto the railing.  On each side of us were New Yorkers. Both men.  I think the one beside me was Neil Simon?  
They were initially friendly and welcoming, engaging us in conversation that very quickly escalated into a volatile argument (between them, not us) about the treatment of their immigrant relatives who came through Ellis Island. 
Wisely, we slowly backed away from the railing and ducked inside to get coffee to warm us from the cool drizzle outside. As we stood at the counter, waiting our turn, we watched in jaw-dropping awe, as the waitress dumped the coffee into the sink rather than give it to the customer - BECAUSE all he had was a twenty dollar bill. Before I could offer to pay for the guys' coffee, she had tossed it, turned to us and yelled, 'NEXT!" I should add that she was a teensy bit scary. 
While we had some tense moments, this was really our only negative experience of New Yorkers.  But, the inhumanity of it, did leave us rather stunned.  
We remained inside for the rest of the tour through the choppy water and cold rain, making our way around the Statue Of Liberty while being thoroughly entertained by Julliard students playing violin and cello - what a treat.  

Once docked, we took an unintended stroll along Wall Street, then hailed a taxi to take us to The Plaza for afternoon tea. Without going into great detail (it's complicated) we were able to   secure a reservation at a classic, Italian eatery in Manhattan, in addition to a wonderful (afternoon) table in The Palm Court Room at The Plaza that afternoon. Forget the 'afternoon tea' scenario.  After some interesting twists and turns with one of the Maitre Di's, (longer story) we were placed at the best table in the room, across from a gleaming grand piano and more Gershwin, where we indulged in a few glasses of wine and a presentation of cheeses.   
Our first day, we'd managed to squeeze in a lot and decided to just relax, more or less, at the hotel, where we ate an uneventful dinner.   Oh yeah, I do recall my near apoplectic reaction when I saw the price of a cup of coffee on our bill. Although, I wouldn't even blink in today's world of Starbucks and coffee baristas everywhere.  
We were still pretty wound up about being in NYC and weren't quite ready to call it a night, so we wandered into the hotel's discotheque (remember it's the eighties).  
There was a spinning, mirrored, disco ball suspended above the dance floor and only a few couples under it. There was this one couple drawing a lot of attention, and it wasn't just their dancing ability getting the attention.  
The guy's pants had been painted on in Tony Manero style (John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever) and the seam in the back of his pants had given way.  He obviously was not aware of it and the more people paid attention to him, smiling and even applauding, the harder he discoed around that floor, spinning the girl in an out and half splits.  It made us laugh then, but I know that if I saw that situation today, I'd have found a way to discreetly tell him.  Hopefully, I wouldn't be alone in that.
Sirens screamed all night long so there wasn't much quality sleep time.  I got up at one point, and looked out of our screenless window (twenty+ floors above it all) and saw nothing but a sea of 'yellow' NY taxis below.   
Our morning plans were to go to Macy's for our "I Love NY' gift stuff, have breakfast, then shop, then back to the hotel room in time for each of us to enjoy a cocktail and a leisurely bath, before getting dressed in new clothes for the theatre and dinner evening, ahead of us.  
    We went directly to Macy's and ended up having one of the best breakfast's of Eggs Benedict and the freshest OJ I've ever had.  From there we went to the "I Love NY' department. It was early morning and already jammed with other tourists. The aisles were narrow and each display table was piled high with logo-ladened, ceramic mugs etc.  
    I happened to be wearing open-toed shoes and the person in front of me knocked a mug off the table right onto the floor in front of me, as I was stepping forward.  I tiny shard, nicked my panty hose and one of my toes. There was a wee bit of blood, but I had nothing to wipe it away with, so I asked a sales person for a tissue.  "Yeah? What for?" she demanded, barely looking in my direction.  I just pointed to my toe and began to explain what had happened.  She didn't even finish my sentence when she began to shout, looking over my shoulder..  
    "MEDICAL!  CALL MEDICAL! NOW!! Then turned to me and demanded that I sit down.  'Here, sit down on that chair by the clothes rack and don't move, cause we have to get someone from Medical here for you, right now."  I said, "What?  Why?  Just give me a tissue and I'll be fine.  Look, it's stopped bleeding already and you can't even see the nick. I don't need to see anyone."  So now I'm looking around for Lorie and can't see her through the dense crowd of Saturday shoppers, because I've been made to sit on a chair at the end of a long rack of tee-shirts.  Out of the blue, I hear a "Psssssssst." coming from my right, but I don't see anyone.  "Pssssssst."   
    Again, I look to my right and down, where I see this elderly, little curmudgeon of a man, who is so obviously pretending to look at the tee shirts, while he pushes the hangers along, looking first right, and then left, over each of his shoulders - like maybe he's being watched or something?  "Call your lawyer."  He hissed at me conspiratorially.  What? Oh, for my foot situation?  No, it's just a little nick and it's not even bleeding anymore. I just need a tissue to wipe it off."  I started to explain.  "Shhhhhh." He interrupted.  "Call your lawyer!  Sue the bastards.  Take them for all they got."  Too funny.  Then Lorie suddenly appeared in front of me, clearly flustered and looking somewhat relieved to finally find me, but questioning why I was sitting with my foot in the air (I'd been more or less ordered to do this). As I began to explain, 2 very large security men with a wheel chair pulled up and helped me into it, while I tried to give Lorie the details.  
    There was a flurry of activity around me as I was pushed through the middle of Macy's on a busy Saturday morning, with everyone looking at me - my leg still elevated as I was reminded.  Lorie followed behind, loaded down with our bags and purses.  People (tourists, I suppose) were even taking photos as we sped towards the elevators.  One of our memorable moments of this particular scenario was when the security guys stopped to comb their hair for the pics.  Once in the elevator, it felt like we were descending into the bowels of the earth. The doors finally opened onto a labyrinth of dark, dimly lit tunnels.  Eventually, we turned into a room marked, 'Medical," where I was quickly assessed by a nurse, who also insisted that Lorie go back upstairs to buy me a complimentary, pair of replacement pantyhose. I did me no good to protest to anyone.  She cleaned up the cut, put a bandage on it and had me sign a waiver of release.  This made me think of the little, conspirator guy upstairs 'pssssting' at me through his teeth.  
    Poor Lorie looked pretty pissed and harried by the time she got back with the pantyhose.  We couldn't get out of there fast enough.  
    Aware that we'd lost valuable shopping time, we grabbed a cab and studied our short list of designer, discount stores we'd brought from our hotel room. We picked one fast and off we went in a yellow taxi.  We lucked out and managed to find a few great pieces before moving along to Bloomingdales.  
    We needed to get to Bloomingdales, which was on our list, so off we went. It's a huge store, almost overwhelming and we were short on time, so we rode the escalator up, only to find out that they didn't accept our credit cards.   
    I can't recall now, if we had Visa and they only took Master Card or the other way around.  We had limited cash so what were we going to do?  How would we shop now?  We left Bloomingdales, because what was the point? We walked along the streets, searching every which way, for a store that took our credit card.  And then it began to drizzle again. Great! 
    We had little to show in the way of a shopping spree, but we would not give up that easily.  We had credit to use up and time was wasing!  
    Lorie's face was filled with frustration by now, and I felt guilty about all the time wasted in Macy's on my toe situation.  But, as we stood on the corner, ready to break down into a serious cry, I spotted another department store on the opposite corner and they were displaying OUR credit card in their window.  "Lorie, look!"  I bellowed, and pointed towards the store window and specifically, the credit card sign.  We couldn't get inside those doors fast enough - with only an hour left before closing, we frantically made our way through each floor that had clothes or shoes. 
    We never even stopped to try things on - make a quick assessment, throw it over an arm and move along to the next thing in our line of fire.  And so it went, until we had what we needed to satisfy our need to spree.  
    Now we were back on the street, in the pouring rain.  The paper bags that held our new clothes were soaked within minutes as we struggled to find a taxi and hold everything together.

    But it proved true, that getting a taxi in the rain in NYC was pretty impossible back then - and am told that things have improved greatly since then.   But we were quickly running out of time to make it back to the hotel, change and get ourselves to the theatre.  There'd be no leisurely bath back at the hotel or a pre-theatre cocktail while we dressed with great care.  At one point, as we wandered further out into the street waving frantically at passing cabs, a big, fat bus came out of nowhere and completely swamped us as it drove through a deep puddle.  

    It was like a dam breaking. We were drenched head to toe, and the paper packages began to collapse. OMG!  Then, miraculously a taxi stopped in front of us.  We clambered in, grasping our dripping, torn bags attempting to keep the contents within.

    Back at the hotel, we raced around the room discarding wet clothes, hanging up our soggy purchases, holding hair-dryers aloft, while ducking under and climbing over each other, as we scrambled to dry off, dress and get out onto the street and to the theatre on time.   The tickets had to be picked up at the box office AND it was still raining.  At some point before we left the hotel that morning, I'd remembered to call and make a dinner reservation, so we were set for a fine dining experience at an authentic, Italian restaurant.  

    Now we were running  to the elevator and Lori beg and to stumble.  The heel of her shoe had broken off.  As we turned to head back to our room so she could change, the door to the room beside us opened and this  grinning man stood there taking in our situation. Still smiling, he politely offered to help us out by offering shoes at a a great discount and all we had to do was step inside his room to pick some out.  "Yeah, right buddy."  I said, as Lorie and I turned our backs and returned to our room.  "No, really. I have a room full of shoes, no kidding!" He called after us.   
    The hotel doorman managed to secure a taxi and the rain had slowed to a drizzle by now.  Still, traffic remained gridlocked, so we were barely moving.  Our driver advised, "You'd make better time on foot - your theatre is only about 2 blocks that way." He advised, while pointing in a specific direction. It sounded feasible, so we climbed out onto the wet street at the suggestion of a NY cabbie - for the second time since we arrived.
    But, the theatre district turned out to be more than 4 blocks away, which we found out after running the whole way, stopping only momentarily to ask for directions.   
    We ran up to the ticket booth, smiling and relieved to have made it with mere minutes to spare.  I asked for the reserved  tickets but was told there were none being held in my name. "Give me another name."  She said.  "Why would I put them in another name?"  I asked.  She shrugged.  "Name?" She repeated, not as patiently this time.  
    I looked at Lorie apologetically and desperately before trying different combinations of my name that included my middle name, maiden name.  I was baffled as to why my name would be in question, because I'd made the reservations over the phone from Toronto, without a hitch. Then, it suddenly occurred to me that the credit card was in my husband's name and Voila!  We were in!  As we lowered ourselves into our seats, the lights dimmed.  "Forty Second Street" was the perfect Broadway show to see.  Lots of music and old fashioned dance production numbers.  
    During intermission, I'm pretty sure I saw Neil Simon standing at the bar. Maybe not.. 
    So the show ended and we are relaxed, happy and looking forward to an elegant dinner (supper).  Now we just have to find a taxi but, it's still drizzling. However, there are still hordes of people milling around in front of the theatre, finding their tour buses, limos and taxi's. We feel safe and stay close to the remainder of folks who are remind each other that we can keep walking as long as we stay close to the crowd.  Well, while we are chatting away about the day, we haven't noticed that the 'crowd' has thinned out considerably and we are now alone on a dark and practically deserted street in NYC.
    We don't know where we are, as we have wandered away from the Theatre District, so we keep walking, trying unsuccessfully to stop any of the taxi's we encounter.  We are starting to feel more than a bit nervous when I notice heavy, multiple footsteps behind us and closing fast.  I glance back to quickly assess the situation.  
    "Lorie, get onto the road, NOW!"  I yelled, pulling her with me at the same time she recognized the potential danger behind us.  Well, who knows.  Luckily, a taxi stopped right then and there and I'm pretty sure the well-dressed, young men who had been behind us, now glancing our way, wondered, 'What the hell?"
    The taxi crossed a series of brownstone, tree lined streets and came to a stop in front of Nanni's Restaurant.  
    It felt like I was in the middle of a Neil Simon play about that certain New York ambience.  The rain on the leaves and wet pavement, reflected the city lights, basking NYC in elegance.  Exactly, how I had pictured this moment, as we stepped from our taxi.  

    As we stepped through the door of the authentic, Italian eatery, we were immediately welcomed by Johnny, the Maitre Di, it was almost like he'd been waiting for us.  He escorted us up to the bar and instructed the bartender to give us a glass of wine on the house, while our table was being prepared.  

    We were given a banquette in a choice location of the room, where we enjoyed incredible service from passionate, funny waiters who couldn't do enough for us. The meal was exquisite, from the appetizer of angel hair pasta, to the dessert tray of fabulous pastries and our first taste of espresso coffee.  Each course was chosen perfectly by Johnny and when we were leaving, he asked if he could call us a taxi.  
    We had budgeted heavily for this meal and it wasn't nearly as much as we had anticipated, so we decided to tip the waiters really well. But, we especially wanted to give Johnny a special 'thank you' and tried to tactfully 'palm' him a twenty dollar bill (plenty at that time). But, he was onto me and reached out taking my hand in his, and folded my fingers around the money, before bringing my hand to his lips and kissing it.  I said that we wanted to give him a little something for the exquisite service and food, but he replied, shaking his head; "No, no, no - maybe just a kiss." As he proffered his cheek to both of us, we happily obliged.   

    Back at the hotel room, we decided that in spite of the day's frustrating events, we actually did okay in the end. We'd get a good nights sleep and look forward to our leisurely brunch in the hotel before heading to the airport. We never did get the I Love NY crap at Macy's so we thought we could pick up some things at the airport, while waiting to board.  We also decided to order limo service to the airport instead of a taxi. After all we'd endured, we felt we'd earned this treat.  

    Brunch was relaxing and uneventful. It was a beautiful day in NYC and of course we had to leave. We joked about how it would really 'awful' if we happened to get stranded one more day in NYC -  what would we do? Shop of course..  LOL.
    Here's a perfect illustration of irony.  As we left the floor of our hotel room the next morning, for our brunch, we noticed that the door to almost every room was wide open.  Inside each room, there were wall-to-wall SHOES!  Remember the guy in the hall when Lorie broke her heel and he offered us a deal on shoes?  Apparently, there was a shoe convention in the city. 
    We'd ordered our limo to arrive early so we'd have plenty of time to shop at the airport.  It turned out that the only thing about that car that resembled a limo was that it was black, underneath the dirt, that is.  What the hell?  

    We arrived with tons of time to spare, so we checked our luggage, got our boarding passes and headed off to get the American chocolate bars (not available in Canada yet) and 'I Love NY' tee-shirts we'd promised everyone at home.
    With still plenty of time and most of our remaining U.S. cash spent, we headed for the gate to wait for boarding call.  As we approached the gate, we noticed an animated crowd circling an airline employee with a clipboard that she was waving around above her head, while yelling for them to please calm down so she could take their names, one at a time.  Curious, we stopped and asked someone on the periphery of the crowd what the commotion was all about.  
    "Our flight to Buffalo left early and we're trying to get on stand-by for the next plane out tonight, but there's only one remaining flight .. they've overbooked."  Sympathetic and relieved it wasn't something really serious, we made our way around the crowd to the counter, where it quickly became evident that it was OUR flight that had left without US!   Now what?  Terry (husband) was driving all the way to Buffalo with our daughter, to pick us up.  I wasn't sure if we'd even be on the next flight, so I had to find a way to reach him there. There were no cell phones at that time, and he would already be on the road.  He wasn't going to be happy when he learned we'd missed the flight, but what could we do.  
    Remaining outwardly calm, I managed to attract the attention of an airline employee who looked like she might have some answers. We explained that we had our boarding passes, our luggage was on the plane that left without us and that we had to let our families know the situation. She took our names and said that she would put us at the top of the 'stand-by' list for the last flight out but there was no guarantee anyone would be willing to be 'bumped' off the plane, for us.  
    I asked why the plane left early and was told that all airlines typically overbook and because departure times can change, the onus is really on passengers to double check flight times.  Fine, lesson learned for future traveling, but what about now?  
    She arranged for me to contact Terry and I explained that he should wait for the next flight, warning that we may not be on it and if so, then we were stuck there until morning and I'd have to try and book a direct flight for the next day and would let him know further details, should that be necessary.  
    I guess we looked pretty down at that point.  She said to wait there while she checked on something.  

    Meanwhile, that last flight somehow managed to leave without us, and found out that people below us on that 'stand-by' list made it onto the plane.  We were pretty upset by the time she came back.  We were stuck in New Jersey for the night - at the airport, no less - hungry - angry - frustrated and unbelievably exhausted.  
    "What happened to being on the top of the 'stand-by' list?" We asked her in unison, as she approached.  She took us to one side and quietly asked us not discuss this with the other passengers, but she had managed to get us compensated at the airline's hotel, near the New Jersey airport.  She included 2 vouchers good for one year, to fly with them anywhere they flew. But, getting out on another flight tomorrow, would be up to us.  

    We found a direct, early morning flight to Toronto and had Terry paged at the Buffalo desk to let him know and ask him to try and find our luggage, without claim tickets - explaining our predicament.  He would also call our office in the morning to let them know what had happened.  Whew..!
    With everything finally looked after, we caught the shuttle to the hotel, booked in and ordered a wake-up call so we wouldn't miss our early morning flight. We were determined to get out of town this time and would be hyper vigilant about not missing this flight.
    Once in our room, Lorie immediately called her parents (single, living at home) to explain things.  Her dad agreed to pick us up at the Toronto airport and I called to leave Terry that message at home.  
    It was almost over. We looked at each other in silence for a couple of beats, before we both fell onto our respective beds, laughing hysterically.  
    Through our laughter, we recounted all the things that had happened to us that week-end. Well, what else could possibly go wrong now, we asked ourselves, hypothetically?  
    Once we calmed down, we realized that we hadn't eaten since brunch that morning, but it was late and most things were shut down by now.  Lorie went down to the lobby to see what she could scrounge for us, while I undressed and changed into an 'I Love NY' tee, to use as pj's.  She returned shortly, with a variety of vending-machine chips, ice from the machine & diet cokes - to which we added our stash of chocolate bars from the shopping bags. The feast was ravaged in front of the tv where we ate ourselves into a chocolate/carb coma... but, not before double checking on our wake-up call. 

    The next morning we were ready and waiting for the shuttle to the airport. No way were we missing this flight. We had called ahead to double check the departure time and checked the boards again the minute we arrived at the airport.  We were okay, and were assured (several times) that changes were not anticipated for our flight.  As we waited for our flight announcement, a guy pushing a 'duty free' cart stopped in front of us, explaining what we were allowed to take home without paying duty.  We used our credit cards to buy one bottle each, happy to get such a great deal.   

    Finally, we were called for boarding.  We practically ran down down the gangplank to the plane, ensuring we were first to our seats.  Lorie was in her seat and I was about to take mine, when I heard a male voice announce that we were in their seats.  "What? Oh, no way!" I said in what I hoped was firm and assertive.  "There is no way we are in your seats.  These are our seats.  Look!" I said, holding up our tickets and pointing to the corresponding seat numbers on the overhead compartment.  "You're right." They agreed. "But, we have the same ticket numbers." They showed us their tickets with the exact same numbers.  
    "This cannot be happening to us." I groaned.  Lorie was now standing up and demanding to see their tickets again.  "Sorry, but we don't care. We are not leaving this plane." I told them, hanging on very tightly to the back of my seat as I stood my ground.  "You have no idea what we've been through."  
    Now the flight attendant had arrived, asking what the problem was.  Happily, she told us to relax because it was just an oversight, and there were lots of empty seats on this flight.  We all laughed a little nervously. Relieved, I apologized and explained somewhat briefly why we had reacted that way.  They nodded sympathetically and moved along to a an empty row.

    When we were finally in the air and safely on our way home, we felt we could finally breathe our relief. "OMG! Who is going to believe all that had happened to us this week-end?"  Everything is going to be fine. We made it..
    Not quite. Old, planet Mercury was still in retrograde apparently (moving backwards) and had one more surprise for us.  When we landed and had to go through customs, we were in different lines. 
     It took repeating the story a few times, to satisfy the agent I had, as to why I didn't have any luggage, only a bag of candy, tee-shirts and a bottle of booze. 
    But, I smiled and remained patient until he finally agreed to let me into the country. But, then he decided I should pay duty on the booze. Yes, he did.  I managed to scrape up the outstanding amount and headed towards Lorie.  All I could see was Lorie in silhouette, a few aisles over from me, waving her arms frantically.  I hurried over hoping to reach her before they took her away in handcuffs.
    She was pretty frustrated. I think being asked to pay duty on her liquor was the last straw. She was trying to explain that we were told it was duty free and this young, over zealous agent, was being a real dick about it. He measured the bottle, turned it around and around, holding it up to the light. Lorie and I looked at each other like, "You've got to be kidding me?"  I backed up her story about the lack of luggage and offered the remaining change I managed to dig up from the bottom of my purse and put it together with what Lorie had. It was just enough to pay the damn duty, and away we went to find Lorie's father and get the hell out of there.  
    Yes, we made it home without further incident, but it was a pretty tense ride, considering all that had happened to us.  
    In spite of the funny stories (in retrospect) we told about our experience, it took a while for us to completely recover from the trauma of our "New York Moment."  But, I remained completely enamored with the city and in spite of all we'd endured, my intention had always been to return to the scene of the crime.  

    And I did just a few weeks ago, when my daughter, who moved there last year for an exciting new job at MTV, invited me for a week-end visit. I had a wonderful time, but it was not without incident.  Yes, it turns out that Mercury was in retrograde this trip too, so I took the necessary precautions where I might have any control. 
    My daughter, Shannon lives a surreal life in NYC. She's a VP at MTV and has a stunning apartment in the cool, west village (Magnolia Bakery is around the corner). So she knows celebrities and gets to sit front row during Fashion Week.  Cynthia Rowley 'pulls' clothes and accessories for her to wear at events and American Elle magazine just did a photo shoot of her (see the October issue, pages 202 & 204).  But, enough about her.. lol
    This is about how NYC and I have agreed to act like an old, married couple who love each other but it's going to be a test until the end.  
    My trip included me falling off my new, Steve Madden platform shoes, just as I reached the end of the 'red carpet,' at the Elle 25 soiree in The Hampton's. Luckily, the it was early enough that the photographers were still shooting the Elle folks who were hosting the event - and they were all at the other end.

    I hadn't worn heels in decades, so it was a stupid decision, but my girl is almost 6' tall and she was going to be rocking these 4" Cynthia Rowley shoes.  And, because I'd be walking beside her on the red carpet, I didn't want to be standing under her armpit all night.. you get the picture. So as we reached the end of the carpet, down I went. Thankfully, we had thought to bring flats and I immediately changed into mine.  The rest of the evening was divine and now I have a funny story to tell at smart, dinner parties.  I love NY!!  

    Neil Simon!  Call me... 

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