That mistake leads into the single biggest difference between NY and CA. My friends…here, in California, when we direct you to a landmark that is oh, say…four blocks away, you're in for at most a 10-minute walk and only if you hit a red light or two in trying to cross an intersection. In New York, "one city block" is the rough equivalent of seven miles. Maybe eight.
I was told that we were only "a few blocks" from Times Square. Now, we can all agree that the concept of "sightseeing" is a chick thing, right? Right. But, c'mon…it's Times Square! They film ESPN's Sunday Sports Reporters there! Current events run in ticker tape style across enormous electronic marquees! They have a Dunkin Donuts!
We began our walk with optimism. Nick in sensible shoes and Aaron in Timberland boots. (Not sure if the kids still wear them, but I got 'em on sale!) The outside temperature read 80 degrees, which was the same reading as seven hours ago when the sun was still up. Do you not have "high/low" temperatures in New York? Is it just a number that's in effect for 24 hours? The sun has set…where is this heat coming from?
Anyways, at about the five-mile mark of the first "block", I was sweating like (wait…where's that old Patrick Ewing reference I used to use in the old Bootleg days…can't seem to find it. Damn.) The sheer size of the Times Square lights make it seem like it's only a few feet away from anywhere in NYC. Trust me…it's not.
But, we did finally get there and now I can tell everyone that I've been to Times Square. And, from now on, it's the truth.
It was getting to be dinner time, so we sought out a subway. Quick weather update: 80 degrees outside…800 degrees, 7th level of hell inside the subway tunnel. All that was missing was molten hot mag-ma. It's been ten years, is it too late for an Austin Powers reference? Probably.
9:00 PM - We ended up eating here. Regrettably, I didn't get a chance to ask our server "Does The Mick still come around?" That wasn't due to any sudden outbreak of decorum on my part. It was because our server was nowhere to be seen. Also absent? Air conditioning. I finally had to ask the host to send someone over. In all honesty, it was probably hard to see us amongst the eight other people in there at the time.
Since the heat was making it feel like Calcutta within, it's no surprise that our server was a doughy Indian guy with bigger breasts than my wife. (And, since the birth of our son, her "maguppies" have become "bazongas", so that's saying something.)
The food was phenomenal (grilled salmon Caesar salad? Yum-O!), but the textbook for bad waiters was out and in full effect (drinks not refilled, entrées brought out before the appetizer was eaten and the server was nowhere to be found when we actually wanted to give him our money). Dude got a 3% tip for his troubles and only because I like round numbers on my restaurant bill.
10:00 PM - It's drinking time! Weeks and weeks of training for this night in New York City. In Nick's corner, Grey Goose & 7. For me, Jack & Coke. May the best man win.
And, we're off to an amazing start as a 20-something male patron gets a beer from the bar. He turns to walk away, then stops, sets the beer down and throws up on the floor. Dude happens to be standing right behind two women who don't seem to know what's going on until my "Run, b*tches, run!" warning reached their ears.
The best part? The guy tries to pick up his drink and act like nothing happened before the bouncer throws him out. His legacy…a full, untouched beer left on an empty, slightly splattered table.
11:00 PM - Nick'a takes an early lead, as I'm washing down my 2nd cocktail with a beer. "It's a marathon, not a sprint…It's a marathon, not a sprint."
Meanwhile, here's my favorite women's fashion fad of the moment: short shorts and high heels. These aren't to be confused with Daisy Dukes or hot pants, kids. These are classy azz-showing shorts, not trashy. Big difference.
12:00 AM - I'm two full cocktails behind at this point and seriously beginning to wonder if Nick'a isn't asking the bartenders for just 7-Up in a highball glass.
And, here's something you'd never see in San Diego: a white girl appears to be the house DJ. Words can't describe how surreal this is. She's even doing that "hold one ear of the headphones to the side of her head" thing. I still can't decide on her name for the night: "DJ Jessica" or "MC OMG!"
1:00 AM - After three hours of Cocktail Combat '07, I'm officially running back to the cold embrace of beer for the rest of the evening. Final Score: Grey Goose & 7s: 8; Jack & Cokes: 5. In my defense, I was on the road and in front of a hostile crowd, but I tip my hat to That Nick'a Guy. On this night, he was just better.
Nick'a asks the DJ if she can play Deep Cover. Hilarity ensues.
2:00 AM - TAXI! In search of a new block to rock, we take a $6.00 ride down the street and end up at a club that's about the size of a shoebox. The place is packed, so we wedge ourselves into a table and order two ten dollar beers. That's two dollars more than the previous highest price I've ever paid for a bottle at a bar. Pretty sure that record's gonna stand for awhile.
3:00 AM - Somehow…someway…we resist the urge to drop another $60 on another hour of drunken debauchery. Wait…is it "beer before liquor…" or the other way around…? Stay tuned.
4:00 AM - For the record, I'm not drunk. I did, however, briefly lose my credit card and hotel room key in the middle of the street. And, I went walking aimlessly down the sidewalk in search of a diner that I was sure I'd seen earlier in the evening. Oh, and I ordered a "sausage" from a street vendor that, I'm now absolutely certain, wasn't sausage. I ordered it "with everything" and it came on flatbread with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, barbecue sauce, mayo, mustard and some of that squirt cheese in a can. Gamey. The meat was a little, uh, "gamey".
5:00 AM - We get back to our room. Three bites to go to finish my vermin gyro and I polish it off like a champ. A Formula 50 Vitamin Water follow-up, and…
6:00 AM - Sleep.
7:00 AM - Sleep.
8:00 AM - Sl… Awake? Aaaaaaaaand, I can't seem to fall back to sleep. Well, on the one hand, the Vitamin Water successfully conquered what should've been a humdinger of a hangover. On the other hand, the pure, uncut Colombian sugar that makes up Vitamin Water is what currently has my heart beating out of my chest.
8:00 :01…8:00 :02…8:00 :03…
Next: The Rest of the Trip…