All I can say is, thank god we are a family acclimated to walking. Anytime we visit a different city, that is all we seem to do. But for us, it works! Having an open itinerary makes me feel less rushed and more open to spontaneity, which is something that I find I struggle with at home lately.
So after we ate lunch and got ice cream, we just causally strolled around Soho and perused some boutiques. There was one shop where a French woman was selling a bunch of vintage-looking shit but she had these kind of cool purses shaped like a woman’s face with sunglasses, and Henry was like really adamant about buying me one which was weird because he usually isn’t one to want to buy me gifts so the sirens were going off, like was he cheating on me or something? But it turns out if it was just because our other plans fell through so now he was like, “Here, spend this money somewhere else.” Wow, what a gentleman. Anyway, I ended up not liking the purse once the lady took it off the rack for me to see better, because it turned out it was baseball-themed and I don’t care about baseball one way or another, so then the broad was, “Here is one in a different color” but it was still baseball-themed?! So then Henry was like, “Maybe this one then?” and now I had THREE PURSES in my hands and I did not want a single of them but I felt so pressured! I just kept murmuring over and over, “But I don’t want one” and then luckily the broad turned her attention to another customer who was questioning a scarf so I dumped the purses on the table and ran out of the door.
We went to several other shops though and I got a ring filled with candy and Chooch bought a cool t-shirt from ESNYC. This is the girl we bought it from and she was so nice and cool and I wanted to be friends with her but I’m old and uncool:
(This picture is from the ESNYC website, I didn’t take it.)
All of the shops we went into made me think of when I was in 8th grade and an avid reader of Sassy Magazine (like every alternative teenage girl in the 90s) and one of the issues had a fashion spread with crazy Mad Hatter-style hats (which I was totally into and had several that I bought at Merry Go Round; I had so many that when we had Crazy Hat Day in 8th grade, I swapped them out three times during the day, lol; I was really into outrageous hats) and FUNFUR OVERALLS. You guys, I wanted these fucking overalls so bad. They were from Antique Boutique in NYC and of course, this was back when you couldn’t go on a computer and get everything you saw in a magazine, so I begged my mom to take me to New York but SHE NEVER DID.
I just googled Antique Boutique and it’s CLOSED FOREVER.
Ouch my heart.
I guess it’s just as well because I’m not cool enough anymore to pull any of that off. If I were, I’d have bought one of the totally crazy repurposed t-shirt dresses I was drooling over in one of those shops, ugh. They were so 1980s new wave, I’m dying on the inside just thinking about them.
Here’s a picture of Chooch recording some Vine tribute that I don’t understand.
Things you stumble upon when you opt for the Walk Blindly Thru the City tour itinerary.
Drooling over architecture never gets old to me. Even in Pittsburgh, there are moments when I’m walking around and notice something cool that I somehow have always missed, a baroque* facade or an old ad painted on the side of a brick building in an alley. So I was more than content to walk around taking pictures all day long.
*(LOL like I know what I’m talking about.)
It was around here (dunno where exactly “here” was) that we realized we were very close to the Brooklyn Bridge. Our original plans for that day included waking up early to see the Brooklyn Bridge, so even though it was late afternoon at this point and prime-tourist time, we figured it was still worth experiencing, because YOLO or whatever.
Do the kids still say that?
Probably not the COOL kids.
Like the girl who sold Chooch the shirt.
On the way to the bridge, we were distracted by some lively commotion in a little plaza. Turns out there was some type of street performance going on and I wasn’t very interested because it wasn’t beautiful Korean people busking in Hongdae (#spoiled), but Henry was all, “Yo ho ho, let’s go see what’s going on, we have all the time in the world, after all, yippee-ki-ay.”
There was some troupe of, I dunno, break dancers? And one of them was going to jump over some lone Canadian broad that was pulled from the crowd but then he decided that he needed to make it more dangerous so now they were pulling out men from the crowd, and I knew, I just knew that:
- This was going to involve a money collection
- They were going to choose Henry
DING DING DING. I WAS RIGHT ON BOTH ACCOUNTS.
I knew this because Chooch got dragged into something similar a few years ago at the art festival downtown, where a group of hustlers masked as street performers were going to show us something really cool but NOT UNTIL WE DONATED. I can’t even remember what the actual trick was now, but Chooch was stoked to be part of.
So now, there are nine people up there and I’m like, “The fuck is someone going to jump over all of them?” OH, THEY HAD A PLAN, ALRIGHT.
First, they went around with bags and at first I thought they wanted everyone to put their phones in there so that we couldn’t record so I started to panic because OMG DON’T TOUCH MY PHONE IT’S AN EXTENSION OF MY BEING. But no, it was simply money-swindling time.
When they got to me, I was like, “Hey man, you took our money man” and pointed to Henry because I can’t remember the last time I had cash on me. So I guess the goal was to get TWENTY DOLLARS from everyone. TWENTY DOLLARS!!!! I could buy a fucking kpop album with that or three fancy ice cream cones or like 7 Kakao emoticon packs! SOME PEOPLE WERE ACTUALLY GIVING THEM $20!!! I know this because every time it would happen, the person that collected would scream, “STOP THE MUSIC!” and then give that person a shout out and it was so crazy to me because I am a TIGHTWAD when it comes to this stuff.
This was like the ultimate NYC tourist trap, you guys. Why are people so dumb!?
Well, they didn’t stop there. They also singled out each “volunteer” in line, and some of those assholes also gave $20!! I couldn’t believe it. Then I started to panic because no way was Henry going to do that but the difference between him and the people in the crowd is that EVERYONE WAS WATCHING.
So, first, when Henry is asked where he is from, he says “Pennsylvania.”
So the guy in charge goes, “HAHAHA WELCOME TO CIVILIZATION” like we’re from the fucking hills and not a legit city, oh I was so embarrassed.
And then, AND THEN! He gave them SEVEN DOLLARS.
So on one hand I’m like, “Thank you for not giving them tomorrow’s lunch money” but also I’m like, “GREAT NOW THEY THINK WE’RE POOR PEOPLE LIVING NEXT TO A CREEK IN RURAL PENNSYLVANIA AND YOU DIDN’T MAKE AS MUCH OFF THIS MONTH’S MOONSHINE BATCH AS YOU THOUGHT YOU WOULD, HENRY!”
Still, it was worth it to get this video of him repeatedly having his ass slapped in front of a crowd of strangers in NYC!
One of my friends asked on Instagram why he was moved to the side and I was like, “Oh because that’s the POOR PERSON line.” Only the suckers who paid $20 (allllll foreign tourists btw) got to move to the front of the line, so this was how they weeded out the line, making it more realistic to jump over.
BRAVO, STREET HUSTLERS.
The guy who pops up at the end of Chooch’s video up there is the ring leader and the one who acted like he was going to do the jumping through the whole routine until the very end when some guy who didn’t participate in the act at all got up from the sidelines and completed the jump.
“You really thought that other guy was going to be the one jumping!?” Henry exclaimed, incredulous. “Did he really seem like he was in shape for that!?”
Wow, Healthy Hank. You’re one to talk!
So, $7 poorer, we continued on to the Brooklyn Bridge, which was, of course, jam-packed with tourists. I felt like we were part of a herd of cattle marching off to the slaughter house.
There were tons of people desperate to get that Instagram-worthy shot but we weren’t fucking around with that. I was like, “JUST STOP HERE *snap* OK KEEP WALKING.”
I mean, come on now. No one was going to stop walking just to get out of someone’s frame, but fauxtographers were still getting all huffy, having their amateur photoshoots bombed by passers-by.
Did you know that I’m desperately afraid of bridges? I am. And I live in a city that is literally known as the city of bridges. I force myself to walk across one every week on my lunch break and it has been helping me a little bit. (Although there is a pedestrian bridge that goes from the North Shore to the Point that always gets me good — I was on it two weeks ago and seized up when I got to the middle; my heart was crashing against my ribcage and I started to get light-headed, and then it began to rain. It was pretty fucking terrible.)
While my legs were a bit wobbly as we crossed the Brooklyn Bridge, I was still able to make it halfway without having a full-blown freak out.
It was still pretty scary though.
I think I would have been scared if we were on it alone, if that makes sense.
It really was breathtaking and worth the hassle of getting dinged at by bike bells and jostled by distracted tourists.
LOL, freshly-spanked Hank.
Some guy was on the middle of the bridge with his albino boa constrictor and asked if anyone wanted to hold it. Chooch shot his hand up into the air and did the whole “Ooh! Ooh!” eager school boy routine.
“That’ll be $10,” the snake’s owner said to me and I was like, “HAHA BOY BYE.”
Chooch was all sad but dude, no. We can go to stupid Cheeseman’s Haunted Hayride and he can hold like three different snakes at the end for free! This is NYC, boy, of course you can’t hold some bridge snake for free.
Henry’s stupid elbow.
Oh, Brooklyn Bridge, where you can’t even take a picture of a plaque without some stranger being in the shot.
Anyway, that was the first half our spontaneous afternoon in NYC. I was heartbroken that our original plans fell through, but really grateful that we were able to make the best of it and let Chooch scratch some shit off the ol’ Bucket List. I didn’t get to do a lot of domestic travel when I was a kid, so I’m glad that we’ve been able to do these things with Chooch. HE BETTER SPEAK FONDLY OF IT WHEN HE’S AN ADULT.