So we survived various levels of Airport Hell and at last we were in the City That Never Sleeps; that meant it was time for me to start achieving full Dad Mode and secure us transportation to Times Square and our temporary home, the Hilton Garden Inn New York/Times Square Central.
My daughter was slightly doubtful.
“Are you sure you can handle this, Skippy? I miss Mom.”
After a walk through LaGuardia where I did my best “Dazed and Confused Tourist” impersonation, we met an airport ambassador who directed us to a city shuttle: two tickets for thirty bucks. Don’t tell me I don’t know how to save a buck while not being a cheapskate. And that brings us to a question everyone’s had ever since I announced this trip:
“Is The Hook a good tipper? Will he use a bellman while in New York?”
Yes and no. Yes, I tipped everyone who provided us with service but sadly, our hotel, while being in a prime locale and thus an ideal place to house my asthmatic daughter, did not employ bellmen. Yes, I know what you’re thinking. Shut up.
The truth is, I tipped the concierge and the porters that stored our bags so I can’t be grouped in with the cheap bastards I deal with every day. But back to our introduction to the Big Apple; once we made our way through New York traffic (just picture every racing scene in the Disney flick, Cars. But super slow and ten times as treacherous. And on acid.) we were blown away. Sure, Niagara Falls is a sleepy little hamlet compared to NY, but we’ve spent considerable time in Toronto, which is a fine metropolis in its own right. But when we finally set foot on an actual NYC sidewalk, our reaction can be summed up thusly:
We went from this….
We stood around looking like typical tourists for a few minutes before I went against the Guy Rule Book and asked for directions. Turns out we were two blocks from the hotel which made my daughter cringe, but as she soon discovered, her lungs were so infused with nervous anticipation they rose to the challenge. We soon learned to be aggressive-but-not-medieval when making one’s way through the unrelenting crowds. My daughter developed a signal whenever she felt overwhelmed: If I felt a her squeeze my arm tightly that meant she had spotted an unsavory character.
I was in serious danger of having my arm amputated because of lack of circulation over the course of those two days.
We chuckled at our hotel’s placement, snuggled between NY shops and facing a major bank’s headquarters, but we were impressed by the elevator and our floor’s key-only access.
“I guess Mom doesn’t have to worry about someone stealing me in the middle of the night, does she, Skippy?”
I love that kid.
We got to our room, washed off a half-day’s worth of airport schmutz, caught our breath and took a few deep breaths before heading out to join the crowds zigging and zagging across the great untamed urban jungle known as New York City, specifically, Times Square and Broadway.
And trust me, those extra lungfuls of air came in handy.
New York really is an amazing place in its own right, but Times Square is NYC for
dummies tourists. Coming from a tourist town in close proximity to “Canada’s New York” (Toronto doubles for the Big Apple in most television and film productions) we were no strangers to crowds…
…But again, we felt like a pair of turtles that had been dropped onto a Nascar track. Our newfound crowd navigational skills proved invaluable as we set out in search of my daughter’s personal Holy Grail: Hamilton collectibles.
Okay, so Holy Grails would be more accurate, but more on that in a moment. First, I have to share my daughter’s reaction when the realization she was actually in New York finally set in. As I’ve already recounted, my child hasn’t always had an ideal existence. Sure, my lovely bride and I have done our best to make her life a happy one, filled with love, laughter, and plenty of toys and books (so, so many books) but we’ve never been able to insulate her from the world’s bullies and all the trauma they carry with them. Which in a way, is good to a point at least; after all, our pain defines and hopefully, strengthens us.
But too much pain can set our development back years and even cripple us emotionally.
At any rate, my daughter has moved beyond the bullies of her past and is now firmly entrenched in the present. And when that present brought her to New York to see Hamilton?
“I can’t believe we’re actually here! I’ve dreamed of this for so, so long and now… I… I can’t even… I just can’t! You have no idea what this means to me… I just can’t…!”
And that went on for a few hours. Even after we asked for directions from two NYPD cops (who are everywhere in Times Square, by the way) and finally made our way to the Hamilton Pop-up Shop, which may as well have a sign above the door that reads, “Promised Land: Dreamers and Madmen Happily Accepted.”
As for the interior of the store/haven itself…
My daughter walked away with $250 worth of what you see pictured here. And that’s in American currency. Which explains all the sobbing I did afterwards…
“We see it all the time,” said the sales clerk, “one time a dad actually fainted.”
From the store we crossed the street, where, like actual New Yorkers, we were almost hit by a biker and two SUVs, to the theatre where it happened. (True Hamilton fans will get that reference.) We soaked in the atmosphere for a moment and I watched my progeny’s face light up like the Falls – but a million times brighter.
Of course, when the actual show started a few hours later, her reaction was…
Well, that’s a tale for Part Three.
See you in the not-so-cheap seats of the Richard Rodgers Theatre, kids…