The New York Story


I have to finish telling this New York story before January 13. Let’s see if I can do it.

I left off telling you about how Isabella and I were headed to her parents’ home in Virginia, having traveled by train from NYC to Washington, D.C. Now, I am a very, very fortunate woman. I have always known how much I was loved and wanted. Even at her angriest with me, I have always known my mother loves me. No question. No argument. I am loved. And even at her angriest with me, my mother has always been willing to drop whatever she was doing to come to my rescue. If I were coming in to town at 2 in the morning, she would be there to pick me up with a smile on her face. My grandparents were the same way. No matter what time, or under what circumstances, my grandfather met us at the gate to open it for us, and my grandmother was always there holding the door open. See? Fortunate. Wanted and welcome.

My family also made a point of not deriding one another in public. We might say things, or give correction to one another among family, but never, ever in front of strangers or in public. I got all my spankings in the bathroom stalls, you know? We are all fairly sarcastic, but not to one another. Since that was my world, I had no point of reference for anything else.

I do have an Eddie Haskell streak, so as we neared the train station, I was going over my etiquette for introductions and thinking through the best ways to express my gratitude through tilt of head and vocal inflection. I was practicing silently. “How do you do, Mrs. Isabella? So nice to meet you, and thank you so much for picking us up, and letting me stay in your home. *head tilt, smile, warm hand clasp over handshake*”

Imagine my surprise when, as I stepped forward from behind Isabella to say hello, her (attractive, well dressed) mother looked me over and snarled, “Well, that one doesn’t look like the ones you usually drag home.” I assumed that meant I looked better? I hoped? I was shocked, but scrambled into the back seat when it was clear the woman wasn’t going to speak to me, and because she and Isabella had already gotten into the front. All the way from D.C. to Alexandria, Isabella’s mother berated and browbeat her. Suddenly, I had a lot more sympathy for the manic seeming girl sitting in front of me. I frowned. Mrs. Isabella hadn’t even said hello to her daughter. Or hugged her. Or anything remotely maternal.

Of course I have no idea what caused their relationship to be so frosty, but like I said, even when my mother was so angry she was refusing to speak to me–she once went 2 weeks without speaking outside of saying things like, “I love you very much, but I can’t look at you right now, so please go to your room,” after finding out I had forged her name on a note used to skip school–she still hugged me, and she still showed up to drive me home from school, and was kind to my friends. I think she talked more to Byron that year than she spoke to me.

I digress. I spent two nights in Mrs. Isabella’s home, and she never spoke to me until the day Isa and I left. I walked over to her and thanked her for her hospitality, and told her how much I appreciated how graciously she had opened her home to me. I did this with as much sincerity as possible because I am a big believer in heaping burning coals on heads, and because it’s what Eddie Haskell would have done.

Meanwhile, during the daylight hours, Isa and I were staying far away from her family’s home. We went to meet her friend and soon-to-be roommate, Mo. Mo worked in a record store, and she and Isa horrified me (see earlier blog entry) by stealing. Isa picked up all the cassette tapes she wanted, and carried them to the register. Mo rang them in as those little plastic things you used to put into the holes of 35 records to convert them to play on a 12″ turntable. Isa ended up with a stack of tapes for around $1.25. I bought, and paid full price for, my CD single. No sir. I don’t steal. LOL.

Among the tapes purchased, was a copy of the Shakespeare’s Sisters single Stay. Isa mentioned that we could listen to it on the drive. If I had known then, what I know now, I would have called for the store manager and had them both arrested, then called my mother to come get me. Why? Because, while that is a great song, it is not a great song on repeat from Washington, D.C. to the New Jersey Turnpike.

There was much scurrying as Isa and Mo worked to pack Mo’s two door, Honda hatchback for our return to the big city. I kept idly wondering where I was going to sit, and then it became clear that it wasn’t so much where I was going to sit as it was upon what, and around what I would wrap my body, so as to fit into the backseat with the luggage, lamps, wooden chairs, and boxes.

I have carsickness issues, so I begged for a ride to the pharmacy, where I stocked up on dramamine, then I drugged myself before being wedged into the backseat, my upper body inside the rungs of a chair, my lower body straddling the seat hump with two lamps between my knees. When the music and Isa and Mo’s passionate sing-along had become to much to bear, I pretended to be asleep, then listened to them talk about what a square nerd I was.

We got lost on the Turnpike and pulled in to a truck stop for directions. In the bathroom, Mo went through the ritual of taking off all fifteen–you think I’m exaggerating, don’t you–of her sterling silver skull/demon/onyx/poison rings to wash her hands in the sink, while I abandoned them to go wrap myself serpentine style around Mo’s belongings. An hour down the road, Mo wailed. “My rings! My rings! Where are my rings!”

After assuring ourselves that the rings were not on her person or in the car, we turned around. I wanted to kill these people, and did not endear myself any by suggesting that Mo could probably find another twenty cheap skull rings at the next Spencers store. By the time we returned to the truck stop, the rings were gone. That did surprise me. I didn’t think they were worth taking, frankly.

Finally, with Mo in tears, we were back on the road. We drove the rest of the way into the city without event, and I had my first experience with trying to park a car in Manhattan. Parking isn’t the problem. Finding a place to park, and parking there during prescribed set of hours is what is tricky. We parked at FIT, got a cab to my hotel, freshened up, had to return to the car for a forgotten somethingorother, then walked to the Limelight.

You know, the Limelight. Isabella had told me she worked there. Right then, the Limelight was one of the It places, and I was gagging to get my happy self inside and dance on their floors. Maybe with Dianne Brill, or Madonna, or some other of my then-icons.

We arrived, and Isa and Mo ditched me on the sidewalk, running to talk to someone they knew. I stood there, one in the morning, in front of one of the hottest clubs, in the hottest city on the planet, thinking my vacation was finally about to get good. And that’s when the guy with the broken beer bottle tried to back me down an alley.

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