Wednesday, February 22, 2006

I had a hearty dinner tonight in preparation for an early morning run tomorrow - and other useless plans

I had a hearty dinner tonight in preparation for an early morning run tomorrow. If I don't make the run, you can blame my unscheduled (de)tour sometime between the end of dinner and the arrival at my hotel ...

I knocked off work at 7:00p, and A. and I headed to Chinatown for dinner. Took the subway, R line uptown, same one I usually take back to the hotel, except that we got off after a few stops at Canal Street. Dinner was Malaysian food at Nyonya, spicy, pretty authentic - I think it's the best in Chinatown. So far so good.

After dinner, A. and I split up and I headed back to the subway station the catch the same R line uptown train. There are several lines that converge in Chinatown, and the last time I did this, I went in the wrong entrance and ended up wandering about for way too long trying to find the right platform. So this time I was determined to just go back down the same entrance I came out of earlier.

Bad move #1:

Well, I thought I was going down the same entrance from earlier. I was talking to S. to tell her all the shops in Chinatown were closed (so, sorry - the $785 LV bag will have to wait - hello? $785 ? can any bag be worth that much? like the chimney sweeps on the FedEx commercial, the right answer is "course not, don't be silly! a ha ha ha ha ha, a ha ha ha ha ha!", so anywho ... ), when the train comes, it has a big 'ol "R" on the side, and I get on. Bad move.

After a grand total of a week and 3 days back in this city, I'm thinking I'm ready to act cool like a native, not like a visitor, and definitely not like a tourist, which naturally leads to only one thing ...

Bad move #2:

Acting like I'm cool and don't have to look-out-the-window-at-every-stop-to-see-where-the-hell-I-am, I'm reading my USA Today instead. The trip is at least 15 mins anyway. Bad move. One sports section and one business section later, I look up and the next station doesn't look familiar. We should be approaching the numbered streets by now, but instead I see a named street, then another, and now I'm starting to think I'm on the wrong train. The next station is another named street, DeKalb, so I get off intending to catch another train going back the other direction. But on the platform, I look back at the same train, and it does have a big "R" on it, so I'm thinking maybe I did catch the right train after all, which naturally leads to ...

Bad move #3:

I get back on the same damn train. Yup, bad move. Forget cool, I'm looking at every station we come to now, hoping for a glimpse of something familiar. In hindsight, I suppose I could've looked at the big subway map on the inside side of the train, but people, the thought never crossed my mind because that would've been a new low in the world of un-cool and violated every male sense-of-direction bone in my body, amen brother! After a few minutes, my patience was rewarded and we started hitting the numbered streets. In a few more stops, we'd be at my 49th St. exit, and I'd be home free! Yes!

Er, no:

Well, 45th St. comes, and 49th doesn't, and then we pull into 53rd, so I get the hell off. I walk up to the street level, and immediately notice a few things:

1. It's quiet

2. It's dark

3. There nothing over 2 storeys tall.

I'm at 53rd and 4th ave, but this sure doesn't look anywhere close to my hotel at 49th and 8th ave. You would think a monstrosity like Times Square could not stay hidden behind all these 2-storey buildings, but my highly developed logical and analytical mind would not let me believe it without seeing it, which for good measure, leads to:

Bad move #4:

I start walking. Hey, I'm a runner, if s*it hits the fan I can always start running right? So I first go to 49th and 4th ave. Then to 49th and 7th ave. Ok, this ain't it. Brownstones everywhere. Duh. I head back to the station, making a big rectangular route. There's not a single sign to tell me where I am, until I'm almost back at the station, and one tiny restaurant sign says ... Brooklyn. I'd taken the R train going the wrong way.

I get back to the station, go downstairs, and am pretty sure I'm on the right platform headed back to Manhattan, when these thoughts go through my mind:

  • So I have to run here for the NY marathon? This isn't exactly how I envisioned triumphantly entering Brooklyn for the first time.
  • Man, those are some BIG-ASS rats! I wonder how something that big can squeeze under a door in such small a space.
  • I could've been blogging by now!
  • Dude - you're in a s*it load more trouble than you think you are - no, not me! this is to the guy who comes up to me and says "excuse me, is this the train for Manhattan?" - can you imagine that - I'm probably the only lost person for miles around and this dude picks me!


I finally get the R train going the right way this time, and head back towards Manhattan. Lost Dude is on the train as well, subway map unfolded in his hands, actively scanning every tile, every sign, every wall space at each stop we come to. Pfphhhhpt! Looks like a bloody lost tourist! After 3 stops, Lost Dude panics and gets off the train, map still in hand and still unfolded! We're still in Brooklyn. Sucks to be him.

I get off in midtown at my stop, and man was it nice to be back in "civilization". People, cars, lights everywhere. I grab a Starbucks on the walk to the hotel, and run into the crowd just coming out from Sweeney Todd on Broadway. I've never heard of it before, but I'm not much of a theatre person. Across the street is where Chicago is playing, which if Catherine Zeta-Jones were to pay a visit, I'd be there ... if I don't get lost walking the half block over.


Jack said...

You reminded me why I never want to go to New York City ever again (unless of course it's to run a marathon ;-)

Deene said...

i enjoyed reading your post. when I was in NY riding the subway, I made sure to have a map and asked everyone for directions, but I'm girl.

Anne said...

You lived out one of my biggest fears of taking the NYC subway alone. It's the only city transit system I can't figure out. Glad you eventually got where you needed to go. Now that's cool.

Susan said...

It's worth every penny!!!

Rae said...

How funny! I think it happens to all of us from time to time when we visit a massive city.

So you saw enormous rats??

Black Knight said...

I think you are ready to write a "travel story book". If the rats are pure breed we can arrange some weddings with the local "gracious pets".

susie said...

I once sat across from a strange man holding a stick on the subway. He kept hitting the top of his foot with it, all the while staring at me. I was never happier than when we arrived at my stop.

Christine said...

Nyonya looks like a great restuarant, I'm jealous! Can't beat the public transportation in NY though... if you were in Dallas, you'd be in a cab paying for every lost mile!

The rats are disturbingly large.

Yvonne said...

tee hee, this post made me giggle. I come across tourists/new-to-new-yorkers who have accidentally ended up in my neighborhood in Queens by mistake, and they seem terrified. Like they will never escape an outer borough alive! It's all part of the learning/exploring process. The subway system here ROCKS, expecially compared to most around the world. One you've mastered it (should take about 2 months) you'll be lost without it.

E-Speed said...

Sweeney Todd is an interesting musical about a barber turned butcher. good music.

hilarious subway story. Glad you finally arrived where you needed to be.

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