It's New York City. The place where geeky people look hip, the hip people look ultra hip, and us....well we still look like tourists. I'm not sure what it is about New York that makes us look so out of place. Maybe it's the things we do. Maybe it's the way we look. Maybe it's the things we say.
Yeah, it's probably the things we say.
One of Lori's must stop places in Times Square was the HBO store. This promised to be a lengthy stop while my wife sorted through everything True Blood in existence, so the boy and I stopped elsewhere and then came over to catch up with the girls, but when we arrived at the HBO store, we apparently entered the wrong door. Instead of the retail store, we had stumbled into the HBO corporate offices, and we were immediately greeted by a security guard who asked if we were in the wrong place. It seemed like a scenario that the guard had played out at least a hundred times that day, so instead of just apologizing and turning around, I looked over at the boy and in my most incredulous voice said "They don't recognize you?" The security guard developed a concerned look on his face, but it quickly disappeared when he noticed the completely confused and baffled look on my son. I still say if the boy had one ounce of improv skill in him, we could be starring in our own HBO series by now. I'm thinking something along the lines of Game of Thrones, only with less physical exertion. Game of Couches maybe.
We took our kids up to Central Park and we were standing at the entrance where I was explaining to the kids why we can't stay at the Plaza anymore, when we noticed a street group trying to gather a crowd for a performance. To be honest, they were struggling for an audience as most people seemed to be in a real hurry to get wherever they were going. Finally, after many futile attempts to draw people in, a man got on a bench and began yelling: "Folks, I know we're a large group of black men in Central Park, but we're just dancing, we're unarmed, and there are police everywhere!"
They got their crowd.
While the kids were exploring our room at the Hyatt Regency Jersey City, one of my daughters came across the sign for the maximum rate of the room. I was summoned over to explain:
"Dad, are we really paying $3000 a night for this room?"
"No sweetie. They post the highest rate that they can charge for the room on the door, but you almost always pay less."
"How much are we paying for the room?"
"Wow! You must be a real good haggler Dad!"
I wanted to explain to her that it wasn't a matter of me standing at the check-in desk demanding that they cut their rate in half, but I've never been called a good haggler before. I kind of liked it. I mean I'm not going to go up against Lori in a deal finding competition, but just for one brief, shining moment, I was the frugal shopper. We'll see if they feel the same when I try and negotiate a discount on their allowance next month.
We took the kids to the world's largest Build-A-Bear store to build their New York bears. The line was fairly long, so the boy and I found a place to settle down and tap into the free Wi-Fi from the cafe across the street. While we were sitting there, I noticed a little boy who was at the store with his sister's birthday party. He had already built his bear, and had found one of the cars they sell that his bear could sit in. For almost a half hour the little boy happily pushed his bear around the store in this car, stopping every five minutes to show his parents what a good driver his bear was. When it was time for them to leave, his Dad asked him if he wanted to buy the car to go along with his bear, to which the boy responded "Dad, do you know what parking costs in the city?"
They left without the car.
We paid a brief visit to Wall Street on our quick tour around Lower Manhattan. There's really not a whole lot to see there for the kids, but there was a little interest in being at the starting point for the Occupy movement. We sat across the street from the site, and I tried to explain a little bit about where the protests happened and what point they were trying to make. The kids seemed somewhat interested, until we got to the part about the camping on the cement in front of the building. That apparently didn't sit too well with them, and eventually elicited the opinion that "I would have Occupied the Hyatt".
If you enjoyed these stories, check out American Monuments - Canadian Kids for short stories from Washington, D.C.