For an audition for a summer program, I went to New York last weekend. I’d never been to NYC before, so I was excited. It was a good excuse to figure out the NY subway system, see Manhattan, and enjoy the opportunity to be an adult in a big city.
I ended up taking the train because it was cheaper than flying. Unfortunately, it also took like 12 hours longer. Don’t get me wrong, I loved that the train went through beautiful Pennsylvania countryside and adorable little towns. But by the end of it I was tired, frazzled and probably didn’t smell very good, and I had a terrible headache. The only huge points I can give it is that though it was a train ride, we did not encounter dementors. Well done, Amtrak.
After a thousand-hour, uncomfortably warm trip, the train pulled into Penn Station in Manhattan, and BAM, Country Mouse Sadie found herself in a swarm of PEOPLE. Now, I come from a city of 150,000, but I was initially shocked at the sheer number of people and how determined they all seemed to walk fast. Yikes.
The next task, getting to the subway, was ridiculously difficult. I follwed a sign that said the subway was “straight ahead,” which led straight to a wall. I mean, what the fuck. Platform 9 ¾ my ass. After three laps around the middle-ish level of Penn Station, I finally found the path to the subway line I needed to take. From there it was pretty easy to find my hotel – I had already figured out which stop I needed – and I got checked in, dumped my stuff, collapsed onto the bed in a tired, sweaty heap, and then peeled myself up to shower, dress and fix my hair for dinner.
Dinner, you see, was at a very, very nice restaurant (much too nice for the likes of me, as Eliza Doolittle observed) in the Time Warner Center across from the southwest corner of Central Park. I was being hosted by Mr. and Mrs. Z. Mr. Z went to high school with my dad several thousand years ago. He previously served as president of [insert name of massive, behemoth newspaper-publishing empire] and was on the board of [insert name of the most influential press agency in the world]. He lives in Manhattan, where he’s neighbors with Sting, Jeff Gordon and Cameron Diaz. He’s incredibly nice, as is his wife, and dinner was just a thousand kinds of epic. Ignore the fact that this restaurant was on a level of classy that I shouldn’t even be thinking about, let alone in the middle of. In spite of my complete bumpkin-ness (I was wearing a nice dress, but also a sweater and tights I got at Target), it was wonderful.
The food was amazing. We had a table overlooking Central Park and the nighttime Manhattan skyline. The maitre d’, who apparently counts the Z’s among his favorite patrons, floated around, hovered around our table and chatted. The (really cute) waiter flirted with me. The maitre d’ flirted with me, set my napkin on my lap for me, and brought us glasses of port (on the house) setting mine in front of me, saying “Welcome to New York.” Then some random guy walked past and stopped to chat with my hosts, politely nodding hello when they introduced me. After he left, they explained to me that he was the CEO of a global securities and banking firm – I won’t say which one, but trust me, it’s a famous one and you’ve heard of it – which operates in the tens of billions. Guhhhhhhhh.
I think the maitre d’ said Sting was eating there too that night, though he was apparently behind a pillar and I couldn’t see. And I’m only half joking when I say that I think Nelly Furtado might have been sitting at the table next to ours. Gah. Couldn’t even handle it.
After dinner, it was about 9:30 and I was so exhausted I was ready for bed, thanks to the almost 16 hours of train travel. But just to cap the night off, I started walking up Broadway. It was mostly just your basic nice big city street, until suddenly a small cluster of trees caught my eye, and there it was to my left, across the street, in all its glory: Lincoln Center. The fountain was glowing, the buildings beautiful. I joined the nearby gaggle of Asians in taking pictures –that is not racism; it is simply an accurate observation, which happens to conform to a particular stereotype – and found the box office for the Met, since I had already planned on getting a ticket for Rigoletto Saturday night.
After gawking at Lincoln Center, I went back to my hotel, showered again, slumped into bed and was asleep before 11.