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?
No? Then in the words of The Donald – “You’re fired!”
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.
When I was a kid, I used to spend the month of August at a Girl Scout sleep-away camp. Come the end of July the counselors had had a month of camp songs and there was always one that they were thoroughly sick of. So it would be officially banned by the time I got there.
Well, that’s how I feel about a particular four letter word – the one referred to as the f-bomb. That baby’s been dropped so many times, I find it merely annoying, especially when people use it three or four times in one sentence. I’d be willing to start a movement for its retirement on the grounds that it’s become a cliché.
Let’s test that out.
From the Merriam-Webster online Dictionary:
Definition of CLICHÉ
1: a trite phrase or expression; also : the idea expressed by it
2: a hackneyed theme, characterization, or situation
3: something (as a menu item) that has become overly familiar or commonplace
Yep! It passes.
But it wasn’t always so. When I was growing up in the fifties, hearing it on the school playground, (the Catholic school playground)was extremely rare. And if it was heard, it would bring forth a chorus of
Ooh, I’m going to tell Sister what you said.
And at home, our parents mostly used thinly disguised phonetically-altered hybrids like Gosh, Darn, Heck, and Shucks. You could go to a slew of movies and never hear more than Hell or maybe Damn.
Then came the 60’s, which as anyone who lived through them knows, didn’t really happen until the 70’s. But somewhere between The Summer of Love , the Democratic Convention in Chicago, and the Student Uprisings, we found, (yes you and I fellow Baby-boomers) we needed something a bit stronger than Shucks. But when we dropped f-bombs we did it with conviction, and as a verb. It wasn’t a mere place holder in our sentences.
No, for that we had like, you know, and man.
Like you know what I’m saying man? Like we were just standing there rapping, like you know, like it went on for hours. And then before I knew it, it was like, you know, time to go home.
In the 70’s people had started using it as an adjective. The first time this was pointed out to me was at the Jersey Shore where I used to go in on a time share house. It was early in the summer when the Atlantic retains its chill, and there we were, a bevy of bikini clad beauties standing at the water’s edge when a couple of Jersey Boys decided to show off their prowess by running and diving headlong into the surf.
I was standing next to Marty, who despite her name, was a fragile looking classical beauty with long blond hair and a sensitive nature that served her well as an art teacher. When the tough guys came slinking out, complaining about how cold the F-ing ocean was, Marty turned to me and, in all sincerity asked “What did the ocean ever do to him?”
I hope Marty,wherever she is, is wearing earplugs these days.
I’ve been thinking about this need for a new four letter word for a while now, but I didn’t really take up the cause until St Patrick’s Day. No, no, it was the day before St Patrick’s Day when I displayed lack of judgment by going into Manhattan. I’d already made the commitment before learning the St Patrick’s Day parade was being moved up a day because the 17th fell on a Sunday. Now if you’ve been following my blog you might remember that, for me, the St Patrick’s Day parade ranks up there with a quadruple root canal.
I soothed myself with the thought. How bad can it be? It wasn’t like I’d be taking the last train home, the one that, on St Patrick’s Day, is called The Vomit Comet (need I say more?) No, I planned on taking the 5:10 when all the revelers would still be reveling for hours.
Well, I was wrong. The 5:10 was worse.
It resembled a high school field trip exploring the effects of alcohol. I walked through seven cars trying to find a quiet one with a slightly older crowd, like over 18. Then I turned around and walked back. I considered taking the next train, but feared it would be worse. Finally I found a middle aged man trying to hide in a book and settled in next to him, hoping no one would upchuck on the hour long ride until I could escape at Peekskill.
It was the longest hour I’ve ever experienced. I’d picked a winner of a train car and a bonus seat – in front of three rowdy girls who were cheerleaders for discord as in dissing (as the young folks say) every boy who was within shouting range.
Man, like you know, those f-bombs’s were flying like all the way home, you know
It was then, probably to preserve my sanity, that I started trying to come up with a substitute. It hasn’t been easy. For a while I thought about spam. Not the canned meat – the computer junk mail. Everybody hates wading through it .
Like you know, man delete, delete, delete. It just like drives me crazy.
I tried using it in context “This is really spammed up!” “What a spamming pain in the A…
Then I realized it would never catch on with the young. They don’t email. They text.
Then yesterday –Eureka – I came up with it. The four letter word that the younger generation discovers at an early age and uses ad nauseum. Come on, parents and teachers you know what it is. B O R E as in “I’m bored!” “This is boring!”
Whaddya think? Let’s try it out in re-describing that train ride home.
“I got to boring Grand Central and I had to walk through seven boring cars filled with boring teenagers to find a boring seat. Now how bored up was that, I ended up in front of a pack of boring loud girls and……”
Yep, that works for me!
My goal for the moment is to live in the moment. As I’ve mentioned previously, I’ve set myself the task of taming my monkey, and appreciating what’s in front of me now. Sunday turned out to be a lesson. You see I’d planned to visit the Westchester Cat Show on Sunday with a friend. But she called me Saturday to tell me she was ill. I was disappointed, but decided to put the now-empty Sunday to good use. I’d continue in my quest to rid the House of Mars of the carpet of leaves surrounding it.
Well, the House of Mars still wears its collar of leaves. I awoke on Sunday deciding it could wait. I’d planned on a day for myself and that was what I’d have. A meditation group I sometimes attend was meeting in the afternoon. It centers around the lectures of Eckhart Tolle, one of the biggest proponents of living mindfully. His book, The Power of Now says it all.
I looked at the clock on the night table. It was 9 AM. The group started at 1:15 – in Manhattan. I could make it. So after showering, a cup of coffee, feeding all three Mars, feline and canine, and walking the canine, I managed to arrive at the Peekskill train station in time to catch the 11:21 train. I even had time to just stand on the platform and appreciate the sunlight sparkling on the Hudson River. How’s that for a now moment?
After listening to the talk and engaging in the meditation, I was ready to put one of Tolle’s points into action:
We spend a lot of precious energy waiting for, worrying about, and over-planning for the next moment. But by the time the next moment reaches us, it’s the now; and more often than not, whatever we were worrying about, or planning for never materializes. But no matter, now we’re busy fussing over what we think we see down the pike.
And here I was in the middle of a prime example. I wasn’t at The Cat Show, was I? With that in mind, I decided to take advantage of the mild November and meander along The West Side rather than taking the subway back to Grand Central Station. I would just walk with no particular route in mind and appreciate whatever unfolded. (And if it so happened I passed one of Manhattan’s ubiquitous vegetable stores, I’d stop for the parsley I needed for the casserole I planned to make when I got home.)
But enough of my narrative, I share my hour’s walk with you.
Ah, Christmas preparations, I love the hustle and bustle of Christmas, but this calm before storm is nice too.
Along Broadway in the West 60’s
Oh my, look where I am – Columbus Circle and 59th Street; and I just wrote about my first summer job at Woolworth’s in the last blog. Let’s see what’s in its place.
Just what NY needs – yet another Duane Reade drug store.
I’ll avoid Central Park South. I hate seeing those poor carriage horses. I always feel so sorry for them. I’ll head east on 58th Street instead. Ah, look, an alternative to animal abuse.
- One of the pedicabs gaining popularity among tourists
And another, and one built for two.
Too bad they’re all idle.
I’ll bet those %^&!! Horse carriage drivers aren’t.
Oh, look more Christmas preparations.
Along East 58th Street
And look, how quiet – wait until next week.
The famed FAO Schwartz toy store
Well, I’ve walked thirty blocks south and seven block south and not one vegetable store. But not to worry, I’ll get it here in Grand Central Station
On the Main Concourse
Is this parsley?
No, here it is.
PS. See, I did use the parsley.
Chicken and Noodle Casserole with sour cream, onions, & parsley