In a New York minute

by Julie Frayn on October 10, 2013 in  Adventures in New York City

Adventures in New York – the final installment

Minute oneThese are a few of baby girl’s and my favourite memories, some standout New York minutes of the places we visited and the people we met in the Big Apple.

And to think that we saw it on Mulberry Street

Somewhere near Mulberry Street we came across a tiny little red door. Looked like the entry to a mouse house. But it had a QR code. Baby girl’s phone wouldn’t read it. If anyone knows what it is, we’d be happy to learn!

A mouse house!

A mouse house!

In Little Italy we satisfied baby girl’s need for cheap Pashminas at a store full of equally cheap purses, jewellery, and surprisingly good quality scarves (six for twenty five bucks!). Every time a new customer entered, an employee would yell “If you want the good bags, go knock on the mirror on the back wall.” We didn’t. They weren’t shy about advertising their good illegal knock offs.

We maneuvered between the restaurants on Mulberry Street, and between the Italian men trying to entice diners to choose their establishment over all the others that looked the same, smelled the same. One gentleman asked where we were from. “Do they let Italians into Calgary, Alberta?” His voice projected far and wide. “Because if that’s where all the pretty women are, that’s where I want to be.” We told him they let anyone into Alberta. After cheesecake and tiramisu at a different restaurant, we passed him again. “Calgary, Alberta!” he yelled as we went by. Next time, we’ll go to his restaurant. Maybe they have decent tiramisu.

Cops and security and rules don’t apply

minute 3

NYPD to the rescue!

We were near the site of the World Trade Centre, looking for Century 21 (no, not the real estate company, the legendary discount department store). A neon-yellow-coated police officer directed traffic in the middle of a busy street. He noticed us, LEFT HIS POST, and came to assist the lost tourists. An older man sauntered up, poked the officer on the shoulder and asked, “Can I have a coat like that? Is that what get’s all the pretty ladies to talk to you?” Ah, New York. We love you.

In Rockefeller Plaza, there were a bunch of stone sculptures. To us Canucks they looked suspiciously like armless inuksuks. We asked a security dude what it was all about. “I don’t know. It’s art I guess. And I’m so sick of looking at it.” One thing we appreciated about New Yorkers – their unfiltered honest opinions.

Minute 2

On our first walk through Times Square, a police car, lights flashing, was trying to turn left. But pedestrians just kept walking. The siren burped out warnings and the car inched forward. Nobody cared (except for a couple of Canadian tourists, aghast at the balls of these New Yorkers). Even when the light changed and the don’t walk sign screamed at them to stop, they just kept going, right in front of the cops. Wow… just wow.

Along the same vein of “rules don’t apply,” we watched several subway users, clearly frustrated that there were people ahead of them in the turnstiles, leave by the emergency exit. Alarms sounded, lights flashed. The security guards, other passengers, nobody gave a rat’s ass. Not even the rats.

Central Park in springtime

Amir, the rickshaw dude with baby girl

Amir, the rickshaw dude with baby girl

We had many memorable moments in Central Park, mostly thanks to a memorable guy. Amir the rickshaw dude. I swore we wouldn’t spend money on such a thing, we’d walk and get lost and discover what we discovered by pure happenstance. But he caught me in a weak moment, right after the FAO Schwartz ton of fun, and convinced me he could show us most of the highlights in one hour – it would take days of walking to see them all. The streaker in me perked right up.

It became clear very quickly that baby girl was the reason he chose to convince us to take this ride. Another broken heart in her wake. But he was respectful, and hilarious. And he kept his promise. We saw the bits of the park we wanted to see, including the statues of Lewis Carroll and all the major players of Alice in Wonderland, one of baby girl’s childhood favourites.

Friends' Fountain!

Friends' Fountain!

We stood at the fountain from the opening credits of Friends. We didn’t jump in and splash around. It was filthy.

Imagine all the people. But barely a sound is made. There is a hush in the park surrounding the John Lennon memorial. A lot of clicking cameras, many passersby, but not a lot of noise. And right across the street, the Dakota. The famed apartment building where John was taken from us. A sombre moment in what was an otherwise joyous trip.

minute 6

Imagine if he had lived

Miscellaneous minutes

Lonely pawn

Lonely pawn

In Washington Square Park, scene of the infamous squirrel-jumping-on-my-leg-and-me-screaming-like-a-little-girl incident, a lonely pawn sat abandoned on one of the marble-topped chess tables after a rainstorm.

On yet another long walk to what would be a wonderful meal at Rosa Mexicanos, an elderly woman was intent on pressing flyers into the unwilling hands of every pedestrian. She didn’t say anything, just shook the flyer at you and threw you a stern look. I did what I always do – gave her a wide berth to avoid contact. But baby girl was curious. God’s unspeakable message, the flyer read. “That’s why she’s handing out flyers,” baby girl said. “She can’t speak of it.”

minute 9

Dogs pee in style in NYC

Waiting to speak to the concierge at the Westin Times Square to ask about where to get good Mexican food, a very blonde, very Russian woman in a very furry vest was testing the kind concierge’s patience with a barrage of questions. She was seeking somewhere to have steak. “Somewhere good,” she said in her thick accent. “Not for poor people.” (That story is so much better when baby girl does her imitation).

Ever seen a fire hydrant in New York City? No fire-engine red. No neon yellow. Nope. Black and Silver. All class…

Well, New York, it was a slice. Not of your famous cheesecake (which sucked everywhere we went), but we will remember you fondly, our own little slice of New York life.

Until next time Lady Liberty. May you be open to visitors and healed from your hurricane wounds…

minute ten


{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

joannevalentinesimson October 10, 2013 at 7:56 am

Really cool, Julie! What a wonderful set of experiences you have had and have shared with your daughter. I’ve enjoyed your stories of The City and appreciate your sharing them with your bloggy friends.
I’m not particularly crazy about New York, although I normally go there at least once a year because one of my daughters and one of my best friends both live in Manhattan, about three blocks apart.
So it was fun to get your take on that city you either love and want to live in, or tolerate for its amazing cultural stew and the love of a few people there.


Julie Frayn October 10, 2013 at 5:07 pm

I think I am somewhere in the middle. Loved the cultural stew (awesome term), the energy, the food, and even the throngs of pedestrians. We turned down a street near Greenwich Village and were suddenly concerned for our safety – because there was no one around! Which is ironic since that’s just like home. Thanks for reading and commenting Jo Anne. You’re a bloggy peach!

Carolyn Frayn October 10, 2013 at 9:14 am

I’m sorry to read the last installment, only because your story has come to an end… ♥


Julie Frayn October 10, 2013 at 5:07 pm

Ah, but you can hear more any time you want. I’m going to (one day) do a full journal from my notes. Hopefully before dementia sets in. ♥

J Timothy Quirk October 10, 2013 at 7:16 pm

I loved this series. I want to read MORE! I will wait for the journal.


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