I got to South Station early on Friday, so I tried to talk my way on to an earlier Bolt Bus than I had reservations for. No luck, sadly, so I waited until 3:00 to load my bags and pick a seat near the middle. The gentleman next to me pulled some thick headphones out of his beat-up hoodie, opened up a
bash window, and proceeded to code for a few hours. I cracked my copy of Four Hour Work Week and did some brainstorming. Eventually I slept.
I visit New York once every five years on average, so I get a new string of impressions on every visit. This time: lots of hair salons. Poorly lit streets (we came in through the Bronx), followed by a wall of lights. Downtown Boston, at its absolute most crowded – New Years’ Eve, the Marathon – packs as deep a crowd as downtown Manhattan does on an average Friday. Tourists in Boston are a recognizable feature – the sandy-haired mom and the dad with thick glasses, wearing their daughter’s college on their sweatshirts, looking at a map and at a street and back again. In New York they’re everywhere. I should know; I was one of them.
I beat my hostess to her house by a few hours, so I killed some time at Trinity Pub on East 86th. Our bartender, Gavin, a round-headed Scot with an easy smile, poured for us and kept conversation with the regulars going. We talked financial news, a hotter commodity in New York than in the rest of the world, and agreed that while things were bad, there were worse places in the world to be than America.
Trinity probably doesn’t get a lot of female customers, so the arrival of handsome Russian expatriate Seraphima drew quite a bit of talk. She mentioned her South American friend – “blonde, successful, independent, great sense of humor. I’m trying to set her up.” “She sounds great,” I said, “why is she still single?” Gavin engaged her in conversation, and soon our corner of the bar was talking animatedly about media saturation and politics. Eventually the last bar’s vodka and this bar’s glass of white caught up with her and she went home to her husband.
Christine arrived half an hour later, just as I’d started in on my last pint. I chugged about two-thirds of it, she finished the rest. “Our kind of girl!” Gavin remarked. “Would you believe this is the one I let get away?” I said. She spirited me to the car, where Tim and his friend Alex waited. They’d caught the butt end of the traffic I saw on the Cross Bronx and were ready to park and eat.
We got beer and appetizers at a little place around the corner from Christine’s. We ended up back at Trinity, where we were greeted as regulars, before stopping in at Brandy’s Piano Bar just next door. They crowd them in tight at Brandy’s, sidebeam to sidebeam, to hear a sweaty guy with curly hair belt out showtunes and classic rock. We listened to him sing for a while before the crowd grew a bit much – the girls weeping openly at “Moon River” sort of killed the ambiance.
Christine dropped me back at her place while Tim and Alex continued on their pub crawl (the notional point of their NYC visit). We caught up on life and history while she unfolded the futon for me to crash on. She’s taking some acting classes and feuding with the cable company, but loves the city she lives in. Considering the adventures I stumbled into in just a few hours I hardly blame her.
To be continued.