So the good news is my sister-in-law Jacqui made it to NY last Friday when the transit strike was delayed. I was so proud of her for navigating the whole bus-subway thing from LaGuardia to Midtown without a hitch! She never batted an eye.
Friday afternoon we started out at the Time Warner building – one of my favorite buildings in New York. It was all done up for the holidays with beautiful 3-D stars hanging up in the four-story glass atrium overlooking Columbus Circle. After shopping, we walked up Central Park West to the Dakota (where John Lennon was shot 25 years ago on December 8), and I pointed out Yoko Ono’s apartment – the one with the white shutters. Ono has bought up 80% of the building. Then we walked through Central Park, stopping at the Conservatory gift shop where Jacqui got a free Christo “Gates” print like the one I’d bought on my last visit there.
We walked through the brisk sunny day to the skating rink where we ate foot-longs before heading over to Fifth Avenue for some real shopping. After stopping in FAO Schwartz we went to Tiffany’s. I had the goal of buying myself something at Tiffany’s before leaving New York for good. Jacqui was behind me 100%! Of course this meant shopping on the “silver” floor, not the diamond floor. Mission accomplished! I am now the extremely proud owner of a Tiffany & Co. necklace and the signature blue box and bag that comes with it. And it cost under $200. Up on the diamond floor we saw a bracelet with a $260,000 price tag on it. That's a mortgage!
Jacqui ended up buying the same pendant! But if her husband (my brother Pete) asks – be sure to tell him it’s just a knock-off from Canal Street. :) Ahem!
After that fun excursion, we walked over to Rockefeller Plaza – past the tree – stopped in at Godiva, and on to Radio City Music Hall where we saw the Christmas Spectacular. But we actually got two shows for the price of one. Before the Spectacular began, a fight broke out between the nice young woman sitting to the left of Jacqui and the old woman behind her. This woman was at least 89 years old – very small and shriveled...and mean. The nice blonde in front of her had innocently put her coat inside her chair, with the collar hanging over the back of the chair. The old lady grabbed the top of the coat and threw it back at the woman as she was sitting down. She proceeded to yell, “Get your coat off my knees!" And then in the third person, "I don’t want her coat touching my knees!” This went on for a while.
It was absurd. We were all pretty stunned at her rotten behavior. An argument ensued, and the nice couple in front of the old lady had to go fine an usher to break it up. Finally, after several minutes of hateful arguing, the crotchety old woman gave in with “Fine then! She’s right and I’m wrong! That’s just fine! I don't care!” Yeh, and Merry Christmas to you too.
Wow. I’ve seen bratty kids better behaved. Anyway, Jacqui and I enjoyed the Rockettes and the ice-skaters on stage. The little girl who danced to The Nutcracker was especially talented. I wish my niece Zoe could have seen her – Zoe loves ballet. The Rockettes danced in several different outfits, my favorite being their reindeer costumes.
I was amazed at the number of kids at the show – and crying kids, at that. After the third parent carried a crying child up the aisle and out, I whispered to Jacqui, “Feel like you’re in church?”
So we saw the Rockettes! Woo-hoo! After all the walking we did, we were too tired to cook any dinner that night. Fortunately Jacqui can fend for herself. She was happy with a bag of microwave popcorn – topped off with some M&M’s that she pulled out of her duffle bag. I had pretzels and peanuts. Then we inflated her air mattress and both went to bed. (Some hostess I am!)
The next day we took the subway to Ground Zero. It was another sunny cold day. Jacqui and I walked over to the World Financial Center where we found a Starbucks and a Godiva store. Jacqui had to get her caffeine fix and chocolates for the show later. (I think we visited every Godiva in Manhattan!) The huge marble and glass atrium and palm trees in the building were beautifully adorned with Christmas lights, and Santa was there on stage, taking requests from a long line of children.
After a stop in at Century 21, we headed back uptown on the subway and walked up Broadway to the Schubert Theatre on 44th. We had front-row mezzanine seats for Spamalot! This is the sold-out show that I’d waited over six months to see. (I’d gotten the tickets on eBay a couple months back.) And we totally lucked out – Saturday the 17th turned out to be the final appearance of David Hyde Pierce (Niles on “Frasier”) as Sir Robin and Tim Curry as King Arthur. I was so afraid they wouldn’t be performing the Broadway show any more. Talk about luck! I was ecstatic to find out - (by eavesdropping on a conversation in the row behind us) - that they were still in the show. Yay!
It was hysterical! Spamalot is a somewhat anachronistic re-make of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, complete with many of the familiar jokes – “It’s just a flesh wound,” and “But I’m your king!” followed by, “Well, I didn’t vote for ya,” etc. I laughed so hard for so long. The audience loved it. Hank Azaria played gay Sir Lancelot, and Sara Ramirez was nothing short of fantastic as the Lady of the Lake. We really enjoyed ourselves. After that, I felt like my stay in New York is complete!
And finally, to top off a great two days, after a visit to the Hershey's store, we headed over to Sardi’s on 44th for dinner. We met my friend Peggy there. I’d actually never met Peggy in person. We’ve been virtual friends since I started interviewing for my current job about 16 months ago. We email each other a lot, talk over instant messaging, and call each other. But we’d never met.
Peggy was in town with her sister Janet and long-time friend Pam – all from Florida. So the five of us shared a meal at world-famous Sardi’s. Janet, Peggy, and I all work in computers. Thank goodness for Pam and Jacqui. Pam is a school teacher, and Jacqui is a radiologist. For once the conversation wasn't all about computer software and its associated problems. Although Peggy did have me in stitches every time she did her hilariously accurate imitation of this gossipy guy at work. Beyond that, no shop talk that evening! We had a blast. And the crab cakes were yummy too!
Anyway, I was so glad my sister-in-law came to town. We had a great time together. And I can’t wait to wear my Tiffany’s necklace this weekend at Christmas. It must’ve been our lucky weekend because Jacqui managed to avoid the transit strike, both coming and going.
The strike – well, that’s another story. It’s illegal and just flat-out wrong. Especially at Christmas time. The three-day transit strike has prevented millions of people from going to work and cost the city hundreds of millions of dollars a day. Tens of thousands have been filmed trudging over the Brooklyn Bridge on foot in single-digit temperatures to get to work.
Kudos to Mayor Bloomberg for getting on TV on Day One of the strike and calling these union workers “selfish” and “thuggish.” And more power to the judge who issued the million-dollar-a-day fine to the union for as long as they stayed off the job. What really gets to me is the complete lack of remorse by the union president - (I refuse to taint my new keyboard by typing his name) - for all the pain he’s caused hard-working people and businesses and travelers in New York. I repeat, it’s CHRISTMAS! How dare the union leaders do this the week before Christmas. I think this strike should qualify as a deadly sin.
I say put them in jail. Put the union leaders in jail and fire all the striking workers. They can be replaced. Ronald Reagan did it to the air traffic controllers. And it worked.
A funny thing happened on the local news Tuesday night. A reporter was airing the news live in front of Penn Station, amid a horde of people. A woman walked up behind him carrying a sign. In plain camera view, right behind the reporter, she walked across the sidewalk with a sign reading “F--- TWU” The reporter never even saw her – he just kept right on reporting about the horrific mess at Penn Station. I gotta tell you, though, that sign really summed it up for all of us here in NY!
I’m lucky – I can work from home. But most people don’t have that option. So, say when you say your prayers tonight, don’t forget about all the stranded New Yorkers!
Merry Christmas everyone! Here's a shot of my brother Dave and my beautiful nieces: