Every now and then in life you find yourself hanging out in a dark humid basement, listening to old timey folk western music and watching a handful of Asian-Americans (and possibly a few Asian-Asians) play ping pong. And when you get to those places, you stop and wonder how it came to be.
Let’s take a trip together. Just you and me. Writer and reader.
My always interesting and exciting job has brought me to NYC. After spending the weekend moving the contents of my life from one house to another…I was beat. I couldn’t find any socks, and I’ve had a long standing rule against wearing sneakers without socks, so I attempted the move in flip flops. Big mistake. My feet still hurt. Each step equals painful heel pressure.
The new house is very nice, but rough. It’s in great shape, don’t get me wrong. It’s just that each hour in the house leads to another desired change. The kitchen needs some help. So do the bathrooms. And most of the trim needs to be replaced. And there’s no shoe molding anywhere. And I’ve already purchased the new doorknobs and deadbolts for the 4 doors….for $60 each. It adds up.
It’s all worth it, however, once I step out onto the back deck and settle into the comfy chair. The backyard is very well shaded and very quiet considering its place in the city. I will be spending a lot of time out there.
Monday comes around and I’m off to New York. My flight out of Raleigh is reasonably on time, which is a departure from the norm for me, so the trip is already going well. Whenever one is in the airport, the gates for flights to New York will invariably have the most interesting people. I was patiently waiting near two Puerto Rican women who were slurping down blended Starbucks drinks and yelling with laughter. It might have been their first experience with caffeine. If you saw them at a party, you’d swear they had been in the bathroom with Scarface. The strangest part: they had an empty baby stroller with them. It wasn’t folded up…just sitting between them. I assumed they sent the baby for more mocha latte frappucino (can you tell I’m not a coffee drinker?).
Once in JFK, I grab a $60 cab ride into manhattan. I’m not sure I like riding in cabs by myself. It’s a little too grown up for my tastes.
The interviews are in the east 60’s so I get put up at the Helmsley Carlton. When I arrived, the woman at the front desk was none too pleased to see the likes of me. This was quite rude on her part, if only for the fact that $500 a night should generate at least a modicum of respect. I was decently dressed, shaven (which is rare), and actually minding my manners. She didn’t warm up but did give me the key to my suite. Yes, she said, “your suite, sir.” I took this to mean, here is the card which opens the door to your $500 per night broom closet that passes for a hotel room in this wildly expensive city.
Well, I was pleased to be wrong. It was indeed a suite. Check out the floorplan. Small kitchen, separate living room area, spacious bedroom and four closets. I was only scheduled to be there for one night, so using all four closets was a daunting challenge*. And the best part was my 14th floor view of Central Park. Finally, the world is respecting me.
Now that I was officially a big shot, I stepped out into the city to do what Manhattan power brokers do: play ping pong. A good friend from high school, Chris, has lived in the city for a while and suggested we head to a bar in the West Village to play some ping pong. Who was I to argue? After a pleasing Mexican dinner at Agave (which I highly recommend), we strolled over to Fat Cat to get our pong a-pinging.
I’ll spare you the details of the matches, but it was competitive. In the end, I was pretty nasty with sweat, exhausted, and won slightly fewer games than I lost. I hadn’t played in years, so this was acceptable. The experience does, however, have me considering a ping-pong table for the new house. Which would be awesome.
My work day was rather short, ending just before noon, so I’ve been killing time all afternoon. Checking work emails, checking personal email, and pestering Chris to join me at Fat Cat for another round of ping pong. Which brings us back to the beginning: me, sitting under a red light bulb on an old-school leather office chair, writing this blog post just for you. You’re welcome.
*I only succeeding in using two closets.