I was in the city Saturday to have lunch with my oldest friend J.J. Let me explain – She’s not my most elderly friend, but the one I’ve had the longest. We met when I was in 3rd grade and she in 2nd, in the school lunch room Being a busy body, I noticed she was having trouble getting the noodles out of the chicken noodle soup her mom had poured into a thermos bottle. I moved over, and helped her. Having met at lunch, we still keep our friendship going, meeting from time to time to share this meal. And Saturday we were meeting at a restaurant on the Upper West Side.
Although we were both born and raised on Manhattan, neither one of us still lives there. I was taking the train into the city and she was driving from NJ. Since I arrived at Grand Central Station with lots of time to spare, and it was a 3 S days (superb, summer, & sunny) I considered walking over to the West Side instead of taking the subway. The decision was made when my cell phone rang. It was J.J. She was stuck in traffic on the Jersey Turnpike. I had plenty of time to dilly dally.
I walked up to Fifth avenue and ay yi yi.
Oh yes, it’s tourist season.
But I plunged in, and went with the flow. Until I heard two gems that brought me to a halt – both from the mouths of visitors from overseas.
Location – 5th Avenue and 50th Street across the street from St Patrick’s Cathedral.
Speaker – a woman (perhaps German) speaking to a tour operator: “Ah St. Peter’s Cathedral? Yes.”
It was all I could do to suppress the urge to say NO. St Patrick’s!!!!!!!!
I mean even if she was expecting to see the postcard perfect St Patrick’s,
And thrown off by its present appearance as it undergoes restoration
Give me a break. How much bigger could the letters be?
Location – Still on Fifth Avenue – a few blocks north, at 56th Street.
Speaker – another woman – possibly from a Mid-Eastern country, speaking in an excited tone to her husband . Tramp Tower! Tramp Tower. In her defense, this was most likely just a matter of her accent, but still I had to smile. For you non-New Yorkers? Ever watch Celebrity Apprentice ? Recognize the building?
These were all, as the young folks would text, LOL moments, at the expense of tourists. But as I headed west on 57th St. I recalled J.J’s words when she’d call to tell me she’d be late. I was dismayed to realize her years in New Jersey were weighing heavy on her.
Jersey people always supplement their location with their exit on the NJ Turnpike
Or the Garden State Parkway
My cousin lives in Hazlet, but just in case you’re not sure, he’ll supplement it with Exit 117. When I used to summer at the Jersey Shore, if you asked me where our group rental was, I’d say Manasquan (period). But if you’d asked one of my Jersey house-mates, they’d have said Manasquan, exit 98.
And so when Jackie explained “I’m still at Exit 11” I had not a clue and had to ask . Where is that”
Just on case you’’re on the Turnpike and looking for Woodbridge NJ. It’s Exit 11.