No matter where you sit in New
York you feel the vibrations of great times and tall deeds, of queer
people and events and undertakings. – E.B. White
Vacation. Is there a more harmonious, three-syllable word in existence? I think not.
And it all starts at the airport. It’s truly the best place to get a
sense of the city or town you’re arriving to or departing from. One of
my favorite things to do is just sit and observe people at the busy
airport bar, casually striking up a conversation with someone on their
way to a visit a relative, or attend a business conference, or return
At the Kahului airport bar, I talked to a gregarious man from the
Big Island, officially on Maui for work. But as we discussed the
lackluster dating scene on his home turf, I got the distinct impression
he was unofficially looking to import some exotics.
In Los Angeles, I cruised past trendy airport boutiques stocked with
the latest in designer impulse ware, and nearly got run over by a buxom
beanpole beauty with her botoxerific boyfriend in tow.
In Chicago, people are boisterous and sporty. I had a bit more time
to spare there, so I sat at a bar called Prairie Dog and ordered a
charbroiled hot dog, “Chicago-style”—which apparently means, load that
sucker up with a mountain of sliced cucumber and tomato, whole jalapeno
peppers, red onions, mustard, neon green relish and pickle spears. It
was like a pinata exploded on my hot dog.
The bartender—Ms. Gray—was telling a couple to my left about the kid
who just walked by and said hello to everyone in the kitchen. She was
proud that he had apparently won several medals at a recent Special
“And he said, ‘Ms. Gray, I love her—I even gave her my gold medal
and she turned it down!’” said Ms. Gray, chuckling. “Now what woman
would turn down a jury? He may be slow but he ain’t crazy! Sweetest
At that point, a man approached the bar, interrupting conversation.
“Whattya got in cans?” he asked.
“We don’t do no cans here,” said Ms. Gray. “That’s Wisconsin.”
So after 13 hours of flight and airport time, I arrived in tact to
Newark, New Jersey, and met up with the Amy and Randall wedding clan in
anticipation of further traveling—this time, by RV to upstate New York.
I had never seen so many cornfields as when I sat on the bed for the
five-hour journey 14 of us embarked on.
Bouckville is a small town near Hamilton—home of Colgate
University—comprised almost entirely of antique shops. The wedding was
to take place in a quaint bed and breakfast called Ye Olde Landmark
Tavern. Pictures of dead presidents adorned the hallways, along with
images from the town in the early 1800’s—which remarkably, did not look
as though it had changed much.
The ceremony was glorious and perfect, complete with a blushing,
eight-month pregnant bride, her flushed but happy groom, and a handful
of seashells used in metaphorical symbolism by the reverend—Amy’s
mom—depicting the bonds and timelessness of love.
After the reception, a select few of us took leave and retired to
the RV, where a rollicking karaoke session commenced. My girl
companions and I scoffed initially. “Karaoke is dumb,” we cried. “I
can’t sing,” we declared. But then after the boys botched Michael
Jackson’s “Billie Jean,” I grabbed the mic.
“Holiday,” “These Boots Are Made For Walking,” “Let’s Get Physical”
and “Hello” later, somebody turned off the sound—much to the dismay of
my newly found karaoke compulsion. We called it a night.
But no wedding party is complete until you wake up in the middle of
the night with the drunken brother of the bride sleepily peeing on you.
Once the RV dropped me back off in Jersey, three of us took a cab
into Manhattan. It was an exciting ride. My very first New York cabbie
was a hilarious and engaging Russian man who liked to complain loudly
about President Bush, ignorant visitors and other drivers, all the
while laughing maniacally at I’m not sure what.
My companions cowered inside the taxi as our cabbie jerked and
barreled his way through the congestion and bright lights. But I faced
forward excitedly and tried to see the sky past the metal and cement
structures like towering alien gods that seemed to stretch straight up
into the next atmosphere.
Already, I sensed a city of possibilities and couldn’t wait for the
thrills to begin. I practically leapt out of the cab and skipped down
the block, careful not to trip over my naivete and the occasional
I was to stay with Ashley—East Coast native and one-time Maui Time
employee—in her new flat in the Upper West Side. As I approached her
building, the doorman greeted me and led me into the marble-covered
lobby, announcing my arrival by phone to my dear friend. Seeing her
apartment was an exercise in envy retention.
The place is an expansive, two-bedroom, two-bath layout covered in
hardwood floors with brand-new everything sporting stunning views of
downtown Manhattan and the river. It turns out Miss A landed a position
as personal assistant to a successful—and very amenable—editor and
writer of textbooks.
“It’s kind of like a Devil Wears Prada situation,” said Ashley, “without the devil.”
Needless to say, if I didn’t already love the girl, I would hate her.
To be continued next week! MTW