It's been a long
day. Names have been changed to protect the innocent
. Girlfriend is not named because she asked me not to node about her.
After wandering round the streets of New York for hours on end, I sat in the park for a bit watching the people pass by. A guy with a musical bike made me smile, but I was feeling a little blue. Squirrels played around in the crunchy leaves while an oriental looking kid stood there trying to sell bags of brightly coloured stuff on a pole. Nobody wanted one, but he seemed to know that. He just stood there. I wished I'd brought my book.
I wandered down to have a look at the polar bear and then headed east on 65th to the apartment, humming Beck.
"She could talk to squirrels."
I was first back, but my lass and her mum turned up a half hour later and her step dad a bit after that. It was around 6. Paula phoned and we arranged to meet in the Windows on the World at 8 - time enough for showers, ironing and faffing about.
So by about 8:15 we were getting on the subway and heading for Wall Street, arguing about whose fault it was that we were late and generally all wishing we were in different continents. We got off at Fulton and walked to the twin towers.
Already late we had trouble finding the right way in, thanks to some really helpful security guards who sent us the wrong way. Everyone was getting a bit wound up and we were all fed up of rushing, but we were over a half hour late and Paula was on her own. Things started to go wrong about here.
We went in and found the lift up to the bar, but were told we had to pay a cover charge. Step dad Greg started fuming, but then he's a bit like that. We paid and were about to go up when they told us we had to put our coats in the cloakroom. We did that. We were about to go up again when the head honcho of the lift patrol people, the most important people in known space, told girlfriend's mum Lisa that she couldn't go up in those trainers. Now we are all grown ups, we've all been to places with dress codes and we know how it works. The guy could have said before we'd paid to go in, but as the three of us were English we'd have been happy to say, "OK, Lisa and Greg wait here, girlfriend and me will go up, have a drink and extract Paula and then we'll all go to on to the restaurant."
Greg went nuts.
First he starts shouting at head honcho guy,
What? You can't stop a lady going to a restaurant because of what shoes she's wearing!
I'm a New Yorker and I have never been to a restaurant in this city where they would stop a lady going in because of what shoes she's wearing.
God damn, this is crazy! Who do you think you are?
The head honcho guy didn't look impressed. He said she can't come in. People start to stare at us. I lean on the cloakroom counter and wait for him to shut up. Obviously he's not going to get us anywhere. Lisa looks embarrassed. Girlfriend looks exasperated and checks her watch. Paula is sitting about half a mile above us wondering where we all are.
Greg looks around for support, sees none and decides to carry on shouting at people. He tries the cloakroom staff next.
Do you have any shoes we can hire?
Sweety, take your shoes off, you can go up in your stockings.
God damn, I've never seen anything like this.. I'm a New Yorker!
Lisa looks like she is going to cry and tells him to keep his voice down. About twenty other punters are looking at the ceiling, their shoes or into the middle distance. Girlfriend turns to Greg and tells him to shut up and stop embarrassing her mum. Greg has the tickets, so we can't go up without him handing them over. I look at the floor. Greg starts on the head honcho again.
Can she go up in her stockings?
Clearly that's not going to happen. So Greg tells Lisa to take her shoes off... she can wear his... he doesn't mind going up in his socks. I tell him not to be stupid, to give girlfriend and me tickets and let us go get Paula. Like a spoiled brat he slams his fist down on the cloakroom counter and shouts,
I'm in control here!
The only reason I don't punch him out is that we're staying in his apartment for the week. Lisa's crying, but she takes her shoes off just to try and shut him up. Obviously they are still not going to let us go up. Lisa takes the tickets out of Greg's hand and passes girlfriend and me a couple. We scoot to the lift just to get out of the way and what does the lift attendant say?
I need to see some ID to let you go up to the bar.
Are you taking the piss?
You can't be serious.
The lift attendant has seen the whole thing and can see we're not in particularly good moods. She can see the large audience and she can see Greg shouting at the head honcho guy.
OK, how old are you?
Well I'm 24
OK, go on then.
So we get in the lift, accompanied by the shouting of Greg and a small section of the audience; those who are not waiting at the bottom to see him get thrown out. Girlfriend and me fume menacingly in the corner and everyone else looks at the ceiling, the floor or their finger nails.
Paula's fine, but asks where Greg and Lisa are. We spend five minutes guzzling down the most expensive double vodkas in four counties, pointing at a miniature Statue of Liberty in the distance and looking at the lights below and then brace ourselves for the lift back down. It feels like getting in a drop ship.
When we arrive back in hell the place has brightened up a little. People are now chatting to each other about the crazy guy and the staff are chuckling to each other. The head honcho guy is taking deep breaths. We get our coats and look around for Greg and Lisa, spotting them right over the far side of the room. It's a big room. You could probably park a small airbus in there.
When we approach we see Greg has had a lobotomy or something. A complete transformation of character has washed over him and he's nice as pie. I hate pie. Greg says,
Oh you came back so quickly. You know if we had thought about it sooner you guys could have gone for a couple of drinks up there with Paula... hi Paula, how are you?... and you could have caught us up at the restaurant.
That's another world's tallest building we can't come back to!