I was on a mission, an advance party charged with finding a restaurant. I had several criteria. Since we would be attending a 7 PM music event on the West Side of Manhattan immediately afterwards, it had to be in the vicinity of West 72nd Street, and since it was early September, which is technically late summer, we preferred it have outdoor cafe seating.
Normally I’d let my fingers do the walking and make reservations on Open Table, but since my train got in at 4-ish, and we planned to eat at 5:30, which is early by New York standards, I knew I’d have no trouble finding a place. I decided to walk over from Grand Central and take a look in person
Well, it didn’t take long for me to become totally distracted I had progressed but one block when all it took was one well-displayed sign in a store window.
I knew what a variance was, having sought the help of my friendly town building department in pinpointing the location of my septic system years ago. I was told a variance had been issued for it. That was all they know
“what’s that mean?” I asked.
“It’s an exception to the rule.”
Curious to see what was going on after hours, I turned the corner and proceeded to the next sign.
I finally tore myself away and proceeded onward when total panic struck. My heart rate actually increased. Had I crossed the border into a parallel world? Into another dimension? I stepped back. Here I was on the corner of 50th Street and Fifth Avenue, but where was St Patrick’s Cathedral? Had aliens absconded with it? I mean where could a cathedral that took up a square block disappear to? I took a few deep breaths to calm myself, and stepped back to logically assess the situation. There had to be a logical explanation. And there it was.
So distracted had I been by the rat poison sign, that in my desire to explore, I’d turned north a block early onto Madison Avenue without even realizing.
But time was a-wasting, and I was on a mission. I gradually wound my way north and west when ……..what was this? It was a typical Halal food cart but I’d never seen so many people lined up at a pushcart.
I decided to research the matter scientifically and do some comparisons.
Even an ice cream truck just as people were getting out of work on a hot evening proved to be no competition.
(If you’re not a New Yorker, you don’t know that after years of luring successive generations of children out of their homes for soft serve ice cream cones with its annoying music, Mr Softee raised such ire that a newer prissier New York City issued noise restrictions targeting the trucks during the reign of King Giuliani)
But oh my goodness, time was a-wasting.
Well I managed to find a few restaurants then proceeded on to meet my friends on our agreed-upon corner. They suggested a restaurant they’d passed on the way over from the Museum of Natural History, where they’d spent the afternoon. And what are the odds? Of all the restaurants on the West Side, it was the one at the top of my list!
End of story.
Well, not quite. A few weeks later I found an article about the opening of Urban Space Vanderbilt, a new upscale midtown food court…..
right down the street from the rat building.