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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

New York City, 7/6/2015

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If You Hate New York, Then You Hate Humanity

Last days are always interesting. Well, every day is interesting, but there's something about a last day on a trip: sometimes it's bittersweet, sometimes it's sad, even heartbreaking, sometimes it's strangely ecstatic, sometimes it's sublime, and sometimes it's this strange blend of all of the above, something so joyful and melancholic that we English speakers have no word for the emotion, but French people do because only a group of people who put a stick of butter into every ounce of food they eat, and are yet, on average, as thin as that very stick of butter, can possibly comprehend such things on a level that they can define them with one word. Such skill with words takes a certain foreknowledge, like giving a nation a "Statue of Liberty" somehow knowing full well that that nation will eventually fight two unimaginably bloody and costly wars just to free you from your "possessive" German neighbors. That statue isn't large enough to silhouette against the current New York City skyline, so if France ever wants us to bail them out again, I think they should give us a bigger statue...I mean, we already supersized their fries for them, they can't, like, make Lady Liberty just a few hundred feet taller? Meanwhile, we're fat, and they're skinny? C'mon, Frenchies!
If it feels like I'm stalling, I am because my last day in New York City was very emotional and I don't entirely feel like making those feelings public, so much that I am insulting my French ancestors, who bravely left France for America to never ever return to France again, and who did not teach to any of their children their magical language, which would allow me to distill this final entry down to a single word.
It's all good, though. I love to ramble.
Speaking of ramble, Adrian and I packed up our stuff, checked out of Quarters, and the two of us assaulted Ess-a Bagel one more time. I bought a strawberry cream cheese bagel yet again. My newfound, New York City-induced regularity made me greedy, so I asked Adrian, both chef and professional eater, what bagel has the most fiber. He said "Pumpernickel?" and I said, "Hey, man, that's none of your damn business!" and he said, "No, I think a Pumpernickel bagel has the most fiber," and I said, "Oh...er, sorry." That bagel was the kind of yummy where after you eat it you actually say the word "yummy" out loud, and in a cat voice. Don't even act like you don't know what a cat voice is, it's 2015.
After the bagels, Adrian and I took our final subway ride together to the American Museum of Natural History. Adrian had a 1:30 flight to catch that afternoon, but my flight wasn't scheduled to take off until 7:15. Meanwhile, the Flying Lutz brothers were going to be in town (do you say "town" in regard to New York City?) until three-ish or something, so they agreed to meet us at the museum so the four of us could hang out one last time.
Adrian was a little stressed about the museum because museum's are responsible for 80% of cat-related fatalities in the U.S., I mean, he was afraid his early flight would not allow him much time to see much of it. Adrian was also afraid he would not be allowed in...not getting a picture of why is my great failure on this trip.
Adrian and I packed only backpacks for this trip to New York, and we wore them to the museum that morning. Only thing is, Adrian had acquired another backpack two days before--part of an awesome swag pack given to him from Nathan's Famous for competing in their contest. As Adrian, at least at that particular moment, only had one back, he had to put the second backpack over his belly. If only he'd had a t-shirt big enough to fit over it, he'd have looked like a cross between Arnold Schwarzenegger in Junior, and the Hunchback of Notre Dame from the Hunchback of Notre Dame.
As Adrian and I got off the subway, we were greeted to the cheeriest subway station I visited in New York City, though admittedly I didn't go through NYC's "Candyland" district, where I hear Princess Lolly is very "hospitable," though I've been told to say "no" if asked if I want to see Lord Licorice's "Manhattan."
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The Lutz brothers got to the museum almost immediately after us, but Adrian only had about an hour to hang out, so we let him pick the opening itinerary.
"I would like to see the time machine, please" he said.
"There is no time machine at the American Museum of Natural History," I answered. "The technology is not possible."
"Oh. Well, I would like to see the dinosaur skeletons," Adrian said.
So then we looked at a bunch of awesome dinosaur skeletons and a lady being attacked by pterodactyls. .
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Adrian and I were so obsessed with dinosaurs when we were kids that we...uh..um...we had a lot of toys and books about dinosaurs. Also, ice age era creatures were shown some love.
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Nice tusks, bruh.
And this terrifying salamander thing that could gum to death your whole family.
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And finally, this insanely terrifying phallic creature, supposedly some type of frog ancestor. Apparently, it looked like a tadpole when young, but instead of turning into a frog, it just turned into a larger, sharper, penisier tadpole that could surely burrow through your skull and swim through your nightmares.
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Perhaps so that he wouldn't miss his flight, or perhaps because he was scarred for life by visions of the demonic tadpole creature, Adrian said his goodbyes, and then there were three. The Lutz's tolerated both my hunt for penny-engraving machines (the Smithsonian...er Museum of Natural History has FOUR!!!) and my obsessive museum-watching, even giving pennies to the cause and standing around while I read every single plaque, but eventually, they had to leave, as well.
And then, there was one.
Here was my original nightmare: alone in New York City, but now it was a dream come true: (DOUBLE COLON) in my happy place, fully attuned to the city, with time to kill. By the way, what an arrogant expression, "time to kill." But let us pretend it is not arrogant to speak as if we humans have any control over time whatsoever--I had nearly seven hours to kill, just a little bit of money in my pocket, and sunny with a high of 75.
I stayed in the museum for another two hours, looking at nearly everything. I absolutely love the American Museum of Natural History's "People's of the World" dioramas, which are informative and creatively constructed, but my camera flashed too hard on most of the pictures to post them here, so here are the three that for some reason came out clearly: penis guy, two moose fighting, and a giant canoe.
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I don't understand. Why get armored up to go to war, but just let it all hang out like that? I mean, I go into battle, I see you dressed that way, I'm hitting you right in the junk. Sadly, this is the last penis reference for my New York City travelogue. We are truly approaching the end. Also, these dudes outside were dragging a beluga across the parking lot.
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After the museum, I walked to Levain bakery to get my family cookies, as I had already had cookies of my own, and I am not an evil man, as cookie-withholders are truly the type of scum who have turned America into a worldwide, "cookie-unfriendly" laughing stock. I walked a couple blocks from Levain to Gray's Papaya for a couple hot dogs ($5.99 for two hot dogs and a drink), one with red onion sauce, one with sauerkraut, but I didn't take a picture of them because by then I was a real New Yorker, and I didn't take pictures of piddly stuff like hot dogs anymore, but whoa the namesake Papaya drink from Gray's Papaya is absolutely incredible, and among all the insanely delicious stuff I consumed on this trip (your mom?), Gray's Papaya's papaya drink is close to the top of the list.
For my next stop, I ventured back to a place Adrian and I had come upon by complete accident the night before, like when you find an M&M between your couch cushion, but your not hungry, so you put it back and eat it the next day.. I'll give you a hint, it rhymes with "Schmenschmendo Schmurld."
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Nintendo World!
If you've been to any other websites I've contributed my writing to, you'll know that I am Nintendo for life, and Sony and Microsoft are a box of raisins next to its Chocolate Fudge Brownie mountain. Also, if you eat a lot of raisins, you get this poo joke. Anyway, I like Nintendo a lot, and here, in the middle of Manhattan, is a world dedicated to it!
Giant Donkey Kong!
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Dozens of playable Wii U's and kids who are not obnoxious because they are growing up playing Nintendo games instead of Call of Duty!
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This awesome "History of Zelda" display that I could not stop taking pictures of!
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Nintendo World isn't just a paeon to Nintendo, though, it's actually a store, loaded with the most recent Nintendo games for current systems, along with toys and apparel. I saw roughly 100 t-shirts I wanted to buy, but considering, though I went on this trip in about as cheap a fashion as possible, that I had just spent so much money on myself (on the 600 pounds of food and drink I consumed), I decided to instead get my son a stuffed Luigi because I want you to like me.
After Nintendo World...actually, bad way to start that sentence, as nothing can come after Nintendo World, I headed to the subway station near Rockefeller. I was not only high off off Nintendo World, but also from the Red Velvet cupcake I had bought from Magnolia Bakery on my walk to Nintendo World--the cupcake was good, but what made it awesome was that I found Magnolia Bakery completely by happenstance.Before the other eight guys had gone home, I had referenced the classic "Lazy Sunday," and its reference to Magnolia Bakery, and NO ONE KNEW WHAT I WAS TALKING ABOUT, even though it's only been a decade.

I'm not sure I want to live in a world that can not remember Lazy Sunday!!!
Anyway, after joining the ranks of Samberg and Parnell without even trying (and eating that cupcake on the street, yo!) and experiencing Nintendo World, I made it to my subway stop, only to find out that due to an obstruction on the track, and an ongoing police investigation related to that obstruction on the track (bomb? dead body? Jenny from the block?), my train was indefinitely not running.
New York didn't want to let me go...which was great, because I did not want to leave.
Despite never having been where I was, I walked the blocks back to a subway station we had used by the San Carlos, found another train, and headed toward JFK. I rode the train for a while, felt like I should get off, and did. I found myself some where near Jamaica in Queens, New York, saw a bus stop featuring the Q10 busline with a stop at JFK, and boarded. I then preceded to ride though the entirety of Queens, experiencing neighborhoods dedicated to virtually every ethnic group I have ever heard of.
At a certain point (let's say 30 minutes into the ride), though I was enjoying myself immensely, I felt I should ask the woman next to me if this bus was, indeed, going to the airport. Turns out the woman is from Guyana, and also the nicest person in the world, and also the only person I've ever met from Guyana. She works at Marshall's, and has a sister who works at Marshall's in New Orleans (a place she has never visited, though she has heard they serve a strange dish there called a "kingcake," which I guess in the borough she lives in would be served as a "queenscake" oh  no that joke was terrible) and her absolute glee that a strange man from Louisiana wanted to be her friend was as palpable as the airport, at that exact moment, was not. Fortunately, the Q10 does go to JFK AT THE VERY END OF ITS LONG AND WINDING ROUTE, and even more fortunately, the ex-Caribbean Island dude sitting across from me on the bus works for Delta, and my flight was a Delta flight.
In a strange and wonderfully cinematic experience, the woman from Guyana and her son, just because, tagged along with me and my new best Delta Airlines employee-friend. The four us got off at the last stop and headed to the airbus for the Delta Terminal together. Just as the elevator to the airbus reached the top of the skyway, Jamaican guy on my left, Guyanans to my right, myself in the center, I caught a last full glimpse of the New York skyline in the late afternoon light. At that moment, I felt a catch in my throat the size of the big apple (that's it...apple...not corn...how could I screw that up?!).
I was about to sob uncontrollably, but I didn't want to upset my new party members, so instead, I cried on the inside. We're talking thought tears enough to fill the thought Amazon.
We reached the terminal, and Jamaica and I bid our Guyanans adieu, and Jamaica started buttoning up his work-shirt and tying his tie, as we rode a 2000 foot-tall escalator because JFK is really, really big. Then Jamaica ran into his boss, and his boss wanted to know if he had finished his TPS reports, and Jamaica and I shook hands, and again, I was alone.
JFK airport is crazy. LaGuardia Airport almost reminded me of Baton Rouge's airport. You get off the plane, and you're basically out of the airport. JFK is bigger than Baton Rouge, the city and the airport (I didn't fact-check to verify that, but you can take my word for it, as The Nicsperiment is basically more trustworthy than Wikipedia, as Wikipedia has thousands of editors (including *cough* The Nicsperiment), and The Nicsperiment only has one editor (The Nicsperiment).
Lines go in every direction throughout JFK, and no one knows what line they are supposed to be in, and people in authoritative uniforms insist to everyone that all the lines are the same and it doesn't matter what line you are in, and no one believes them, and you feel like someone is going to freak out and lose it, but then, what do you know, they did all lead to the same place, and you are through security and off toward your plane.
"Off toward your plane" in my case meant getting on another bus to go to yet another terminal because I've already told you, JFK is actually the size of the whole world, and we all actually live there, and I'm still there right now because JFK is everywhere.
I must press to you this, though: I was so happy that I was still in New York that I would have been fine being ferried around JFK all day...and that's pretty much what happened.
Suddenly, my phone began to vibrate. A text from Delta. YOUR FLIGHT IS DELAYED. GATE IS CHANGED. I was originally supposed to fly out at 6:40. 7:15 was already a delay (I had been notified of that first delay a few weeks before). Now my flight was leaving at 7:35.
Then a lot of stuff happened, and I convinced the bartender to give me infinite coke refills because I wanted some caffeine, and I got a lot of caffeine, and I found an I♥NY shirt for a fair price with the authentic I♥NY stamp on the tag ($9.99), and by 9 p.m. I was still in New York, and I realized with a sweet, sweet joy that New York wanted me! it didn't want me to leave! it was telling me that I could stay! I could stay forever where I belonged, the grandson of a farmer and son of a farmer and brother of a farmer who is not a farmer has found his home! nowhere else wants me but New York wants me! and then the plane took off.
I sat next to a lady who wasn't particularly nice, and who made a big deal about me having my reading light on, but I read anyway, the whole flight, and I finished A Wizard of Earthsea, and Adrian picked me up at the airport and brought me to my car, and I drove home. À tout à l'heure.

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